Auctioneer Spotlight: Joe and Eszter Wilson

 In Art & Gallery News, Cruise Art Auctions at Sea

Many of our Park West collectors develop friendships with the art teams over the course of their land or sea vacations. Here’s a chance to get to know them more as they share their favorite adventures in the art world.

When Joe Wilson initially embarked on his adventure alongside Park West he told himself it was temporary—that was seven years ago. Since then, Joe has amassed great success as a fine art auctioneer, enjoyed the sunshine of several continents, and even met his partner in life, love, and business—Eszter. Together, the pair has elevated cruise guests to new heights of collecting, and most recently, made a significant move of their own.

Eszter and Joe Wilson on formal night. Photo courtesy of Eszter and Joe Wilson.

Previous ships as Auctioneer: Celebrity Reflection, Royal Caribbean (RCI) Jewel of the Seas, RCI Brilliance of the Seas, Carnival (CCL) Conquest, CCL Breeze, CCL Freedom, and many others.

Current ship: Island Princess


Where is your hometown?

Joe: Orange County, California—home of the greatest weather in the world!

Eszter: Budapest, Hungary


When did you start working as an international art auctioneer on cruise ships?

Joe: I’ve been working alongside Park West since January 2010. Prior to working with the gallery, my professional career was rooted in the world of fashion and art—I was involved in sales and marketing. The day I realized I could combine both my passion for the arts and world travel was a dream come true. I was hooked.

Eszter: I started with Park West in November 2014. Beforehand, I received a degree in early childhood education and was a schoolteacher for a year. I’ve always had a passion for travel, so I embarked on the adventure of being a youth counselor for Carnival Cruise Lines for almost five years.  This, of course, is how I met Joe! We meet on the CCL Breeze in 2013, and we’ve been happily married for two years now.


Who is your favorite Park West artist and why?

Joe: This is a tough one. I tell my collectors, art is like music and wine.  My favorite song depends on my mood, and my choice of wine may depend on my meal or the time of day. However, Joan Miró tugs on my heart strings. He understood that art is a transfer of energy to the canvas, and from the canvas to the viewer. Miró’s risk, courage, and creativity helped lay the foundation for many artists we love today. This is why I believe he was revolutionary.

Eszter: Undoubtedly Csaba Markus. Maybe I’m a little biased as a proud fellow Hungarian, but I truly believe he captures the elegance, romance, and beauty of the Hungarian spirit. His artwork elevates any room.


What is your favorite client memory?

Joe: There are many that we would love to share, but recently, a guest named Michael from Sacramento cruised with us on the Island Princess. He was recently widowed and cruising with his daughter. Michael visited us in the gallery every day and attended every event—the whole team looked forward to his visits. He was a proud husband, father, and grandfather and loved to talk to us about his family. We were very fortunate to be able offer him a Peter Max commissioned portrait. He knew immediately that he wanted to submit one photograph in particular of him and his late wife. Eszter and I will never forget the moment he showed us the picture; it was very emotional. I can’t wait to see the finished work.

Joe and Ezster enjoying a sunny day in Mykonos, Greece. Photo courtesy of Eszter and Joe Wilson.

Out of all the places you’ve traveled, where is your favorite port?

Joe: The Italian seaside has to be at the top of the list. Chartering a boat around the Isle of Capri, taking a dip in the Blue Grotto, enjoying the scenic drive around the Amalfi Coast, and stopping for some of the best seafood, cheese, and wine in the world—I can see myself retiring there.

Eszter: Cozumel, Mexico. This is a popular port, but our many trips to Cozumel led me and Joseph to travel to mainland Playa del Carmen. We fell in love with the little resort town and said “I do” there two years ago.


What does life look like when you’re at home on vacation?

Joe: We usually spend our time bouncing between southern California and Budapest on our vacations, and we have a blast visiting family and friends. Recently, we decided to plant our feet full-time in Budapest when we’re not working on board. I love the city—it has so much to offer. Come visit! Oh, Eszter’s home cooked meals are one-of-a-kind. I think her second calling was to be a chef.


Please tell us about your experience aboard the Island Princess:

Joe: The Island Princess has been our home away from home since January 2016, with breaks in between, of course. We’ve sailed 15-day cruises through the Panama Canal more times than we can count. As cliché as it sounds, I feel like I’m the luckiest person in the world. Eszter and I have met some of our best friends. I get to enrich people’s lives by introducing them to fine art, and most importantly, I get to do this with my wife. It doesn’t get any better than that.


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