Park West Auctioneer Spotlight: Ralph Bird

 In Art & Gallery News, Cruise Art Auctions at Sea

Established over 50 years ago, Park West Gallery understands just how personal art collecting can be—an experience highlighted by the attention our clients receive from our incredible onboard Art Teams. Park West takes great pride in our personal approach to art, that’s why, every month, we take time to recognize some of our top auctioneers. In November’s spotlight, we’d like to introduce you to Ralph Bird.

Ralph is an art enthusiast with a passion for connecting collectors to their perfect artwork. Since joining Park West, Ralph Bird has shared his infectious knowledge and love of fine art with thousands of cruise guests. You can learn more about him in our new Q&A

Ralph auctioning off a notable Peter Max work

Please list your previous ships as an Auctioneer:

Carnival Sensation, Carnival Elation, Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas

Please list your current ship as an Auctioneer:

Royal Caribbean Quantum of the Seas

Where is your hometown? 

Ralph: Plettenberg Bay, South Africa (about a five hour drive from Cape Town).

Ralph Bird standing in the ship gallery

When did you start working as an international art auctioneer?

Ralph: I have been working for Park West for almost five years now and have been an auctioneer for two of those years. I have worked in many different fields, from hotels to teaching, and I found that working for Park West has given me the opportunity to be able to pursue my passions in my life, I get to teach people about the art world and get to talk about art all day with new people every cruise. Talk about my dream job!!

Who is your favorite Park West artist and why?  

Ralph: As I’m sure many of our collectors can attest to, it is very hard to say who your favorite artist is. It’s almost the same as asking what’s your favorite band or favorite music, art is something that connects with you in different ways so at different times you will have different favorite artists. Although, in saying that, if I had to say one artist whos work always captivates me, it would have to be Michael Cheval. I have always been drawn to Surrealism and Cheval takes this art movement to a new level, in my opinion. I have always been someone who likes to see more, and with Cheval’s art you can get lost in your own story which drives me to be more creative as well.

Ralph with artist Stephen Fishwick

What is your favorite client memory?

Ralph: I do have many great memories with my clients, many of which I still see; like going out with a client on his birthday and singing happy birthday while he was dressed up in a chicken suit in Mexico. However, one of my fondest memories has to be when a client and myself planned together for the client to propose at my auction. Let me tell you there was not a dry eye in the room, and it for me will be one of the highlights of my life.

Out of all of your adventures around the world, what has been your favorite port? 

Ralph: ALASKA! Any port, any time!! I love the outdoors and Alaska has to be one of my favorite places in the world, from the glaciers to the quaint villages, I love every moment I spend in Alaska.

Ralph posing in the port in Cozumel, Mexico

What does a day/life look like when you’re at home or not working?

Ralph: Well, coming from a small costal town in South Africa means that my time at home is spent mainly on the beach or hiking with friends. No shirt, no shoes, no problem. I do also enjoy visiting galleries around the world and outdoor installations. The world of art and music pretty much consumes my life.

Tell us one thing about living and working at sea that would surprise most people.

Ralph: We work 7 days a week, however it is not the same as when working at home. Some days we will work 10 – 11 hours other days 3 – 4 and everyone around you is doing the same so it doesn’t feel like you are working, not to mention that we generally get anywhere between 6 – 8 weeks off after our contract, which means we have the ability to have amazing vacations and really relax.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about yourself with collectors?

Ralph: I absolutely love what I do, I know what you are thinking, “he is just saying that.” It is true though, just ask any collector who has ever sailed with me and they will tell you the passion I have for the art world and bringing it to my collectors. I love it when you have a new collector who just collected their favorite work of art and seeing the excitement, or a return collector finding that work they thought they had missed out on. It is one of the greatest feelings in the world to be able to share my passion with so many people and to have such a common love for something with people from all walks of life. I have had everyone from students to doctors, mechanics to lawyers and everything in between. Art knows no bounds on the passion it fills within so many people.


For the latest art and auctioneer news, follow Park West Gallery on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. Watch Ralph Bird in action at our live online auctions. Register now!

Interested in learning more about starting a career hosting art auctions on cruise ships? Visit Art Auctions Abroad for more details.

Learn more about Park West’s world-class auctioneer program:

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