Auctioneer Spotlight: John Block
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.
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!
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.