Auctioneer Spotlight: Skye Li and Johnny Zhang
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.
Auctioneers Skye Li and Johnny Zhang attest to the power of art, love, and ingenuity—halfway around the world. With the cruise industry in Asia rising at a record pace, Skye and Johnny are setting the stage for Park West’s presence in the burgeoning Asia market. To the entrepreneurial pair, communication and positive thinking are the cornerstones of success, off and on the clock. While Skye and Johnny’s life together began in happenstance, one thing is clear: it was meant to be.
Previous ships as auctioneer: Sapphire Princess
Current ship: Sapphire Princess
Where is your hometown?
Skye: Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, China
Johnny: Huzhou, Zhejiang Province, China
When did you start working as an international art auctioneer on cruise ships?
Skye: Though I graduated from the Nanjing Army Command College in China and majored in Intelligence Analysis, art has always been my passion in life. When I graduated, I decided to change my career path. I found that my ultimate goal was, and is, to be a great auctioneer.
When I first joined Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum of the Seas as a Gallery Director, I had a friend who worked in the jewelry shop and she introduced me to her coworker, Johnny. It was love at first sight for the both of us. Our first date was during Christmastime. After six months of dating, Johnny quit his job and began representing Park West to pursue our life goal together.
Johnny: I was working as a watch specialist on board before we met, and I really thought it was destiny. I quit my job without a second thought to work alongside Skye and Park West. I was so happy to begin my career in the art program; it refreshed my point of view. We became auctioneers in the beginning of 2017. I think we’re a powerful couple.
Who is your favorite Park West artist and why?
Skye: Itzchak Tarkay. I love the way he integrates the bright colors of [Henri] Matisse and the lines of [Henri de]Toulouse-Lautrec into his artwork. I am also overwhelmed with his upbringing, what he experienced as a child, and how he overcame strife. Yet, he only portrays positivity in his art.
Johnny: I really enjoy Peter Max’s artwork. The vivid colors bring a happy and enjoyable feel to our gallery. Every time we get a new Max on board, I practically scream with excitement. The stories behind each of his works are also my favorite stories to share with clients.
What is your favorite client memory?
Skye: Mr. and Mrs. Zhan were celebrating their 30th wedding on board the Sapphire Princess. Johnny and I found out it was also Mrs. Zhan’s 50th birthday. We decided to gift her artwork by Kevin and Wendy Schaefer/Miles as a birthday present. We surprised her at an auction and invited the whole crowd to sing “Happy Birthday” together. Mrs. Zhan and her family were teary-eyed and so overwhelmed. She told us: “No one has ever done something like this for me!”
Out of all the places you’ve traveled, where is your favorite port?
Skye: We both love Okinawa, Japan. Here, Johnny and I first dated and had a wonderful Christmas. We love its salted ice cream and the great sunshine.
What does life look like when you’re home on vacation?
Skye: I like going to theme parks, like Disneyland, and travel around with my family. I also enjoy practicing yoga and painting.
Johnny: First, I like to relax at home—playing video games and watching movies. Oh! “Game of Thrones” is my favorite. I also visit relatives and enjoy time with family. After that, I look forward to future travels.
Tell us about your experience aboard the Sapphire Princess:
Skye: I am very grateful for my Sapphire team and their constant support. It’s been exciting to be able to implement the ideas I’ve had in mind over the past two years working in the Chinese market.
Johnny: I feel like I have learned more than I could ever imagine. As a manager, it is more important for you to lead the team, rather than be a hero and save the world on your own. Making others stronger isn’t always easy, but it’s the best way.