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Auctioneer Spotlight: John Block

 In Cruise Art Auctions at Sea, Itzchak Tarkay, Marcus Glenn, Tim Yanke, Uncategorized

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.

John Block, principal auctioneer, has been an international art auctioneer for more than 10 years. He began his career on ships in various senior management positions, but he always had a passion for art. Once he discovered there was a career that would allow him to combine his passion for art and travel, as they say at auctions, he was sold.

Headshot

John Block has been an auctioneer on 22 cruise ships since 2003. Today, he is still traveling as an auctioneer for the Park West VIP program. Photo credit: John Block

Previous ships as Auctioneer: Carnival Cruise Lines (CCL) Legend, Holland America (HAL) Veendam, HAL Zaandam, HAL Ryndam, Regent Mariner, Regent Voyager, Regent Navigator, Celebrity Millennium, Celebrity Infinity, Celebrity Solstice, Celebrity Equinox, Royal Caribbean (RCI) Legend of the Seas, RCI Serenade of the Seas, RCI Explorer of the Seas, RCI Adventure of the Seas, RCI Mariner of the Seas, RCI Navigator of the Seas, RCI Voyager of the Seas, RCI Liberty of the Seas, RCI Freedom of the Seas, RCI Allure of the Seas, and RCI Quantum of the Seas
Current position: Park West Gallery VIP Program

What do you like most about being an auctioneer?
John: I wake up every day with the mission of helping people understand and appreciate fine art. This is so fulfilling because art has been such an important part of my life and is an important part of society. Many people have stopped reading books and poetry and are allocating their time to television and the Internet. I believe our culture and society will be evaluated generations from now, not on the number of clicks on websites, but by the visual representations we leave behind, including art.

Who is your favorite Park West artist and why?
John: Itzchak Tarkay is my favorite Park West artist. Long before I met Tarkay, his art spoke to me in a completely visceral way. After I met him, I learned about his life, the focus and purpose of his art and it made me appreciate his work even more. The emotional feeling of being connected to a work of art is a bit like falling in love. There is no formula or checklist that can predict it. When a work can break you down and build you back up, then you have kismet.

Who have you met in your travels that made a lasting impression?
John: On the Celebrity Solstice, I met Les DeMerle, a world-famous drummer who has played with the who’s who of jazz over the past 50 years. He founded the Amelia Island Jazz Festival that annually celebrates jazz and offers scholarships to young musicians. We’ve become dear friends and now work together on the festival each year with the sponsorship of Park West Gallery. We were fortunate to have Marcus Glenn as the festival’s official artist in 2014 and this year Tim Yanke is joining the cause. This is all possible from meeting Les DeMerle on the Celebrity Solstice!

John and Yuri in their favorite country and where they fell in love, Italy. Photo credit: John Block

John and Yuki in Italy, their favorite country and where they fell in love. Photo credit: John Block

What is your favorite port?
John: I love Italy. It’s where I fell in love with my wife, Yuki, and is truly one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been. In Sicily there is a small restaurant called Trattoria Dudu. Signor Dudu, the owner, has a beard like Santa and doesn’t speak a word of English. He plays antique Italian records from his Victrola and sings along with no regard for tone or pitch. Ordering isn’t ordering. Signor Dudu continually brings dishes from the kitchen, each more remarkable than the last, until you motion with your hands for mercy. His life is about making people happy and delighting them.

What do you enjoy most about working with the VIP program?
John: I spend my time traveling with some of the greatest artists of our time. Due to dinners and late-night chats, I have the distinct honor of learning who they are on a level that few people outside their families will ever know. When we present their artworks together at auction, I get the pleasure of challenging them to put words to the works of their genius minds and hearts. I can’t imagine there is any job I could love more.

Auctioneer Spotlight

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Showing 32 comments
  • Marianne Dziedzic
    Reply

    I have bought two Scott Jacob prints from you on 2 different cruises. I am looking for the “pass the Salt” framed print from Scott Jacobs.

  • jim irvine
    Reply

    Hi John, Hope you are both well! I bought a Tarki on the Adventure from u last year (sept) hope u.r. enjoying life on land

  • Lolita Tyler
    Reply

    John: I purchased a Takaya from you in Nov. 2013 on Royal Caribbean. I purchased it not only because I liked it but also because of the passion you exhibited when you spoke about Tarkay.

  • Sharon Boyer
    Reply

    My husband and I have been collecting art from Parkwest for over 20 years . Every time we have the pleasure to cruise I always say no more art . Then we visit Parkwest and we always see new and exciting artist . And yes we bring home new artwork . Royal Caribbean and Parkwest what a wonderful team . Parkwest you always do such a outstanding presentation of the new and exciting art that is available . Art from all over the world .

  • Paul mcinnes
    Reply

    Hi John
    Lauren and I are still in love with all the pieces we bought while on our honeymoon on the solstice. Your level of service and attention for all was world class and hopefully we will see you again on cruise and talk more about the amazing art works you have to show.
    Thank you again for helping us with our dream

  • Ed Lee
    Reply

    Hi, Great guy w/passion and wealth of knowledge. Bought 2 Tarkay – 1 is watercolor & a Glenn. Even got wife to buy her first on Allure last year. We learned a lot, will miss you on Oasis in Oct. Congratulation on your promotion.

  • Ken & Gillian Alessio
    Reply

    John was our auctioneer on a VIP cruise on the RCI Quantum of the Seas. He made an otherwise great cruise and art event even better. Thanks John and Park West.

  • John Block
    Reply

    Lolita, I am so delighted that you were able to collect a Tarkay and I hope it brings you a lifetime of joy! I wish you the best now and always! -John

  • John Block
    Reply

    Jim, the Adventure remains one of my favorite ships in the RCCL Fleet. It always felt like home. I’m so happy you collected a Tarkay, I hope you think of Itzchak and our whole family at Park West fondly when you admire it. -John

  • John Block
    Reply

    Paul, thanks so much. I look forward to another cruise with you again soon!

  • John Block
    Reply

    Ed, thanks so much for your kind words. I hope to see you again soon!

  • John Block
    Reply

    Ken, thank you for being so kind to me. It was my pleasure. I look forward to seeing you again soon!

  • John Block
    Reply

    Lolita, I just wanted to thank you for being so nice! Hope to see you again soon!

  • Lungisa
    Reply

    You inspire me so badly and I’ve missed the opportunity of working with such a great auctioneer that I’m longing to be! You are the legend to so many of us including your collector……

  • George Papandreas
    Reply

    John,
    It was a real pleasure meeting you this past October on the Celebrity VIPS cruise out of Barcelona!
    Beth and I will never forget the interesting, (and hilarious) dinner conversation we shared with you and other guests, Jenny, Ken, Karen and Garrett.
    Thank you also for helping me snag our Picasso etching!
    We never did finish our conversation about the Japanese sword guards, tsuba, as well as swords.
    Pity you had to leave our cruise only to sit in Germany and wait for yours to begin…you missed some really bizarre, unforgettable moments!
    Hope all is well!
    George and Beth Papandreas

  • George Papandreas
    Reply

    BTW…
    Donna contacted us within weeks of the end of our last VIP cruise and told us we were qualified for the October VIP to JAPAN!!
    I can’t tell you how excited I was to get the opportunity! Any chance you’ll be in the neighborhood?
    George Papandreas

  • John Block
    Reply

    Lungisa, thank you for such a lovely compliment. If ever I can do anything for you, please let me know!

  • John Block
    Reply

    George, so good to hear from you! Our trip on the Equinox was so amazing, Morry and I were just talking about it this week. I’m not sure if I will be on the Asia trip or not this year, I’ll have Donna let you know closer to the date. I’m with her (and the team) right now in Bermuda, I will say hello for you. I look forward to seeing you again soon – and we will finally finish our conversation! All the Best to you and yours until then. -JB

  • David & Tori Hoffman
    Reply

    Dear John and Yuki, we bought too much art from you on the Celebrity Solstice Sydney to NZ trip in 2012 – love every bit of it, and we share your passion for Italy and Itzchak Tarkay. We miss the gang, including Will and Justine. Thanks for allowing us to enjoy art so much! Could we be so lucky as to see you again on the Celebrity Siloquette out of Rome in mid-October?

  • John Block
    Reply

    Hi David and Tori, I am delighted to hear from you! I am also so happy to hear you are enjoying your amazing collection of art. I will be at home in October, but I will email Will & Justine and see if they will be on Celebrity then. The Solstice was one of my favorite ships and the Sydney-NZ trips were absolutely the best! Please tell the onboard Auctioneer we are friends when you get there, and they will take good care of you as always!

  • David Hodgdon
    Reply

    Thank you, John, for the great experience (educationally, aesthetically, and recreationally) on the Norwegian Breakaway the week before last. I look forward to displaying the art I purchased on the VIP cruise.

    Take care,
    Dave Hodgdon

  • John Block
    Reply

    Hi Dave, it was a pleasure to meet you and spend a little time together at sea. I look forward to seeing you on our next adventure together! -JB

  • Bob Bandanza
    Reply

    John
    We truly enjoyed the February VIP cruise. We purchased a great deal more Art then we planned too (since we were determined to say no). All pieces arrived in great shape to our home, just caused me more work, as I needed to move several collections around.
    Thanks again for a terrific time.
    Sincerely,
    Bob and Pat

  • Chuck Menche
    Reply

    John,
    I have a question concerning paintings Debbie and I purchased at the VIP auction with you at French Lick Resort in March of this year.

  • John Block
    Reply

    Hi Bob and Pat, I am delighted that you enjoyed your cruise with us! I look forward to seeing you on our next one together!!! All the Best – John

  • John Block
    Reply

    Chuck, I will shoot you an email asap. Look forward to catching up. Thanks – John

  • Lori
    Reply

    John,
    Can you please contact me regarding a painting from the Amelia Arts Festival? I was the winning bid on a silent auction and I have not received my painting. Thanks. Lori

  • Cheryl Bower
    Reply

    John, thank you so very much for all the wonderful books you have sent; I’ve been educating myself on the Masters Collection I purchased on Regal Princess in December. So generous of you & I’ll treasure my books & collection for years to come. Hope to see you again on another VIP. Best regards,
    Cheryl Bower

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