Park West Gallery Auctioneer Spotlight: Didi Stols
During these unprecedented times, Park West Gallery is adapting and innovating to keep our collectors top of mind and close to our hearts—just like we have for the past fifty years. Creating a personal art collection is a special undertaking, and our art teams have been key players in making that happen through the lasting relationships they have built with our collectors. That’s why, every month, we take time to dive into the lives of our top auctioneers!
In our May spotlight, we’d like to introduce you to Didi Stols, a South African native with a passion for spreading her love and knowledge of art with Park West collectors. You can learn more about her in our new Q&A!
Previous ships as auctioneer: Carnival (CCL) Imagination, CCL Magic, CCL Splendor
Where is your hometown?
Didi: Langebaan, South Africa
When did you start working as an international art auctioneer?
Didi: Coincidentally, I was born into the art world. This is not an exaggeration—I literally had oil paint on my pacifier. My dad is a prominent artist in South Africa, so, when I was a little girl, I spent the majority of my days in art galleries talking to artists and art collectors. About five years ago, I was working at an insurance company. One day, I was casually Googling the artworks of Pino (I was well familiar with him—he’s my dad’s favorite artist) when a link to the Park West website popped up. In a moment of serendipity, I clicked on it, saw a careers button, one click led to another, and the rest is history!
Who is your favorite Park West artist and why?
Didi: Definitely Pino! I remember having to wash my hands before I was allowed to page through my dad’s Pino books when I was a kid. I am mesmerized by his ability to capture micro expressions in a person’s face while employing seemingly rough but strategically placed brush strokes. He is, in my opinion, one of the greatest figurative artists of all time.
Do you have a favorite client memory?
Didi: I will never forget this moment! In 2016, a woman came into the art gallery, pointed at a Marc Chagall Bible Series etching, and said “I want that.” Without hesitation, she sat down and gave me her shipping details. Afterwards, I took a moment to congratulate her on the acquisition, thinking that she was familiar with the history of the artwork. I got quite deep into the noteworthy way in which it was created, its significance, and how she now has the privilege of preserving this historic artwork for future generations to come. In response, she stared at me blankly for a moment and said, “Oooooh no! I just like it because the man in the artwork has buried his face in his hands. It makes me laugh because that’s what my husband does whenever I speak. He just palms his face!” I realized in that moment that people really do collect art for many different reasons.
Out of all of your adventures around the world, what has been your favorite port and why?
Didi: I would have to say Hong Kong, because it truly makes me feel like I am far away from home… on a distant planet even. The moment you arrive, your senses are surprised by the sights, architecture, smells, sounds, music, traditions, markets, people, writing, products, culture, customs, and especially the food!
What does life look like when you’re home and not working?
Didi: I am a bonafide beach dweller, you’ll never catch me with shoes on. My first week of vacation is always spent in a comatose state of sleep followed by a lot of (attempted) kite surfing, cooking, and catching up with family and friends.
Tell us one thing about living and working at sea that would surprise most people.
Didi: Crew members can smell Wi-Fi like a bloodhound in the forest! You can drop us off in any port and we will find the best, cheapest Wi-Fi in a matter of minutes.
Anything else you’d like to share about yourself with our collectors?
Didi: Working in an art gallery means total commitment to your profession—it is not typically a 9-to-5 job. We make many sacrifices, often missing major events back home with family, but we do this because we LOVE what we do and are passionate about art. We choose to be here because we are dedicated to bringing the joys and enrichment of art to as many people as possible. We know that art is for everyone!
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: