Park West’s Reputation: Building and Maintaining Trust in the Art World
For nearly 50 years, Park West has built trusted relationships with collectors and artists alike.
In the art world, trust is the most valuable commodity. Building a trusted reputation is no easy task, but that is what Park West Gallery has done over its nearly 50-year history, developing long-term, trusted relationships and earning the trust of dozens of world-renowned artists and over 1.8 million clients. At Park West, reputation is part of everything that they do.
Maintaining this trusted reputation takes a tremendous amount of time and effort. Park West helps artists gain visibility for their artwork, works with certified art experts to ensure the authenticity of classic artwork, educates auctioneers and gallery staff on the wide variety of artists and artworks that the gallery presents and makes customers feel comfortable and informed about the artwork that they are shown.
“Art can be an intimidating product for first-time and long-time collectors alike,” says Morris Shapiro, Park West’s Gallery Director. Shapiro has been with Park West for 35 years and has become a trusted advisor to many clients. “By giving people a broad range of material, educating them, making sure they never feel pressured, we take away that intimidation factor. Our clients can make their own decisions and feel very comfortable about it.”
One Interaction at a Time
Comfort and trust are built with customers one interaction at a time. This personalized approach makes collectors feel part of a collaborative process with the staff, matching their tastes to the right artwork.
After ten years of buying at Park West’s art auctions, Lori and Lee Kalin have nearly run out of wall space in their home, but still they keep coming back. They feel they’re part of the Park West family and that the gallery staff truly cares about them.
For instance, attending an exhibition of Israeli sculptor and experimental artist Yaacov Agam was high on Lori’s lifelong bucket list. But she never seemed to be in the right place at the right time. Then Park West invited the couple on a VIP art cruise. Lo and behold, the surprise guest artist on board that journey was Agam himself. Lori not only got to attend an exhibition but also got to spend one-on-one time with Agam.
“The Park West staff know us from every time we go, and they know the type of thing we’re looking for and the things we’ve already bought,” Lori says. “That makes a big difference in making us feel confident in what we buy.” And it’s that confidence that has lead to so many positive reviews.
Creating that confidence in clients is a job that Park West’s staff takes seriously, according to long-time Park West auctioneer Jason Betteridge. All Park West staff go through rigorous training before they ever step foot on a ship. Through an extensive and rigorous course, trainees learn about art history and current Park West artists as well as how to run auctions. Once assigned to a cruise, the staff then familiarizes themselves with the artists and long-time clients that will join them on board.
For some people, this may sound like a lot of information to absorb. But time and time again, Betteridge says the staff enjoy the continual learning, especially as it helps them forge valuable relationships with artists and clients.
“We know that our clients are choosing to carry us within their lives,” Betteridge explains. “That trust comes with a big responsibility. We try to educate them and provide them with experiences that they could not have through your typical art gallery like spending time with our artists.”
Direct from the Artist
It’s not just the clients like the Kalin’s who appreciate the one-on-one experiences with artists; the artists value those opportunities as well.
“I look forward to every VIP event,” American painter Scott Jacobs explains. “It’s the most enjoyable thing in my art career. People come in, meet artists, learn so much, get a crash course right from the artist’s mouth — that’s all the information they have access to, and the clients know us personally.”
About 15 years ago, Park West first approached Jacob, whose love of cars and Harley Davidson motorcycles is reflected in his art. So he did his research for 18 months, asking other artists about Park West’s reputation and if they were happy working with the gallery. Everyone that he talked to only had positive things to say, and he decided to go ahead with Park West.
Since then, he has never once regretted his decision and has been impressed with how the gallery has presented his work in, helping him gain exposure. In fact, he says it’s his relationship with Park West that has allowed him to flourish as an artist and enable him to keep doing what he loves.
“Everything Park West has promised on they’ve delivered. They’re great because they let their artists expand,” Jacobs says. “We’re allowed to be creative and grow as artists. Park West doesn’t try to hold us back.”
On the collector’s side, because Park West works directly with the artists, any questions or concerns about the authenticity are eliminated. Clients can rest assured that when they buy from Park West that they are always getting the real deal.
The Price Is Right
In addition to authenticity, collectors sometimes have concerns about the value of art. To a casual art collector, art appraisals can sometimes appear to be opaque and intimidating, but Park West works to make that process transparent and approachable by looking at many factors — including an artwork’s age, rarity, condition, authenticity, and lineage of ownership — before assigning an appropriate replacement value of a piece.
In fact, many independent accredited appraisers such as Caroline Ashleigh, who has worked with Park West for nearly 20 years, rely on Park West’s sales for their appraisals and valuations. “Park West has been buying and selling art for over 50 years and has sold more comparable pieces in the marketplace than any other gallery,” Ashleigh says. “They are my go-to benchmark when assessing value for the artists that Park West sells even when I’m working with other auction houses or galleries.”
Since its founding, Park West’s mission has been to provide experiences that help their clients fall in love with art. A large amount of effort goes into maintaining Park West’s stellar reputation, but that work is worth it, according to Shapiro. It helps clients feel confident in their collecting journey with Park West.
“There has to be a special trust and relationship between the client, the auctioneer, the art and the artist,” Shapiro explains. “Those connections ultimately help the collectors understand the pleasure that will be brought into their worlds, into their homes, by a work of art.”