Park West Auctioneer Spotlight: Jared Hamer and Irene van Huyssteen
Park West Gallery’s art auctioneers spend their days traveling from exotic port to exotic port, holding auctions and seminars to get people excited about art. Sounds like a pretty amazing career, right?
Jared Hamer and Irene van Huyssteen would definitely agree with that statement—they’re two of Park West’s top auctioneers, currently stationed on Norwegian Bliss, the newest ship in the Norwegian Fleet.
Jared and Irene make a tremendous team. Their depth of knowledge and passion about art have endeared them to passengers around the world. Recently, this dynamic duo sat down with us to talk about how they got started, some of their favorite client memories, and what it’s like working on a luxury cruise ship. Enjoy this introduction to Jared and Irene!
Previous ships as auctioneer: Carnival (CCL) Miracle, CCL Breeze, Dawn Princess, Ruby Princess, Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Sea, Norwegian (NCL) Breakaway, NCL Getaway, NCL Escape
Current ship: NCL Bliss
Where is your hometown?
Jared: I’m from Paarl, South Africa, which is the wine country of the Western Cape.
Irene: I grew up in a very small town called Danielskuil, a small village in the heart of South Africa. It’s one of the last places in the world where animals still walk around in the streets!
When did you start working as an international art auctioneer on cruise ships?
Jared: I studied art in school and (not so secretly) have always had an appreciation for the finer things in life. After owning multiple businesses myself, from South Africa to Australia, I was finally able to find an opportunity that allowed me to turn my passion into a career.
Irene: I was working on board cruise ships as a Spa Manager for Norwegian when I first met Jared. I began to watch his art auctions and was instantly intrigued by how fun and exciting the art program was on board. Soon enough, Jared and I started dating… and the rest is history.
Who is your favorite Park West artist and why?
Jared: Peter Max. He’s made such a positive influence on the world. I feel lucky to represent him and have even collected some of his work myself.
Irene: It’s hard to pick just one, but I’d have to say that Romero Britto is my favorite. His bright colors in his paintings and sculptures never fail to uplift my mood.
Do you have a favorite client memory?
Jared: On one cruise, there was a young boy named Landen, who was 12, and he loved the auctions. He won a Peter Max book and soon became very fond of the artist. So much so that he wanted to share his newfound knowledge on stage! He confidently got up in front of the auction venue and told the crowd all about the importance of Peter Max.
A couple months later, I received an email from his parents with a photo of Landen and Peter Max at a Park West VIP event. Can you imagine how exciting and memorable it must have been for him to meet his favorite artist in-person? That’s the experience Park West creates, and I’m so glad to be a part of it.
Out of all the places you’ve traveled, where is your favorite port?
Jared: Puerto Vallarta in Mexico is a real hidden gem. I’ve traveled to over 36 different countries and Puerto Vallarta is one of my favorite places. The scenic beauty, diverse culture, climate, people, and value for your money are incredible. (It’s also virtually impossible to eat a bad taco there!)
Irene: My favorite port would have to be Bora Bora or any island of French Polynesia. While overlooking the magnificent turquoise waters of a private beach, I can still see my pedicure waist deep in the clear, warm waters. Of course, all of the phenomenal adventures I’ve had with Jared throughout the ports of Alaska come very close.
What does life look like when you’re home or not working?
Jared: I exchange my suit for flip-flops and board shorts. Then, I dust off my surfboards and find the best waves that I can possibly surf, whether it’s in my backyard of Jeffries Bay, Hawaii, Indonesia, or the Maldives. I also collect artworks from all the countries I visit and bring them back home to South Africa. Experiences are everything to me.
Irene: After a long contract at sea, I like to spend time with my close family. I’m very guilty of binge-watching Netflix with my younger sister. One of my favorite activities is reading self-development and business books.
Tell us one thing about living and working at sea that would surprise most people.
Jared: Ha! We are allowed to eat while on board, our cabins have windows, and yes, we do stay on the ship after the cruise ends. It’s a great lifestyle that allows you to travel the world, meet different people, and experience different cultures, all while getting to do what you love. Then, you get to go home on vacation and get to spend uninterrupted time with family and friends. Did I mention that you don’t pay for food or rent?
Irene: One thing that surprises most guests is that we actually get to spend a lot of time in the ports. It’s a great opportunity to travel and see the world. Working on a cruise ship prepares you for life in the best way possible. I can’t think of anything better to do while you are still young—whether in age or spirit!
Learn more about Park West’s world-class auctioneer program: