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What Is it Like Being an Art Auctioneer on a Cruise Ship?

 In Art & Gallery News, Cruise Art Auctions at Sea
Auctioneer Nikki van der Merwe gets the crowd excited at a Park West auction.

Auctioneer Nikki van der Merwe gets the crowd excited at a Park West auction.

When Park West’s art auctioneers tell people what they do for a living, a common reaction is “Wait, WHAT?” It’s an understandable reaction. Meeting a lawyer or an accountant is an everyday experience. But how often do you meet someone who sells world-class art on luxury cruise ships all over the world?

Once people get past the initial “How did I not know this job exists?” phase, they’re usually filled with questions about the international art auctioneer lifestyle. They want to know about living on a cruise ship, conducting auctions, everything!

With this in mind, we asked a few of Park West’s top auctioneers to give us an inside peek into their world and answer some of their most frequently asked questions about being a cruise-ship art auctioneer.

 

 

1). What is your favorite part of running an art auction?

What keeps me coming back for more, even after 4 years, is the rush and exhilaration of a live art auction. Every week, in front of that crowd, I learn something new. – Jared Hamer

The bidding is the best part for me. – Matt Whittam

I can break my favorites into three main parts:

  • The pride of creating a fun experience, which is, in many occasions, more entertaining than the other onboard events on the cruise.
  • The feeling of presenting art, keeping it real and objective, while also allowing the attendees to enjoy themselves and see how they can learn more.
  • The challenge of using my entertaining skills during my art presentations to create a successful auction. – Chris Greyvenstein

 

Park West's live auctions will be one of the most entertaining moments of your cruise voyage.

Park West’s live auctions will be one of the most entertaining moments of your cruise voyage.

 

2). Why do you think so many people love buying art while they’re on vacation?

I think they get really involved with our events and start enjoying the environment. They always find at least one work they like. – Matt Whittam

Art is a universal language without cultural borders, and sometimes it tells us a story about ourselves. This is bound to happen to any human being at some point in their life. Park West just makes that experience possible for people every week. – Jared Hamer

 

Auctioneer Matt Whittam gets the bidding started.

Auctioneer Matt Whittam gets the bidding started.

 

3). What is it like living on the ship where your clients can see you every day of the cruise?

It’s almost like having an extra crew of friends for the week. In a small way, you feel a little bit famous. – Matt Whittam

If you love people, you will love working on a cruise ship. If you are a little shy, it’s the best place to learn how to get over it. I’ve met over 70 different nationalities onboard. – Jared Hamer

It’s great. People see us all the time around the ship. We get daily comments about the auctions or people shouting at us. Even out in port, people stop by to ask questions. I love it. – Chris Greyvenstein

 

Auctioneers Irene van Huyssteen and Jared Hamer enjoy themselves on an excursion from one of their many cruise voyages.

Auctioneers Irene van Huyssteen and Jared Hamer enjoy themselves on an excursion from one of their many cruise voyages.

 

4). What’s one of your favorite memories of a live auction?

A few weeks ago, we did a 14-day cruise, which is amazing because you get to spend more time with your guests and they turn into your friends. On the final day, our clients took over the microphone and started to conduct the auction. They gave away a hand-signed work from all the team members and then thanked us for the great time they had with us. I will always remember that. – Jared Hamer

I remember one time I bent down to pick up a raffle ticket and my trousers ripped, large enough that the whole front row saw it. It was so bad that I had to send a team member to go get me another suit. I changed halfway through the auction. – Matt Whittam

 

5). Auctioneers are known for talking fast. How do you talk that fast and not get lost during the auction?

Using tonality while annunciating is one of the greatest ways to keep the attention of your guests. You can always make it sound fast depending on your tonality. – Matt Whittam

Annunciating is a great way not to get lost in the words. It’s about having a rhythm and keeping the tempo. It’s pretty easy really and, with practice, anyone can do it. – Jared Hamer

I make a point of slowing it down. But you have to keep the balance between fast and slow. You want to keep the energy for the fun attendees that came for a live show, but also keep it professional for interested collectors. – Chris Greyvenstein

Auctioneer Chris Greyvenstein is an expert at talking slowly, but keeping it exciting.

Auctioneer Chris Greyvenstein is an expert at talking slowly, but keeping it exciting.

 

For the latest art and auctioneer news, follow Park West Gallery on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Want to learn more about becoming a Park West art auctioneer and traveling the world to spread the joy of art? Visit Art Auctions Abroad!

 

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

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Showing 6 comments
  • Vicki Sleeger
    Reply

    Love the team of Mike & Chris from the Explorer!! We’ve bought several pieces of Chris deRubeis artwork & a couple others too. Thanks guys for everything!!

  • TERRI DUNN
    Reply

    Jared Hamer introduced me to the fabulous world of art auctions, and made the experience so memorable. I purchased two works by Peter Max with his help. We’ve acquired several other works on other cruises. I think it’s safe to say we are HOOKED! Thank you, Park West, for making it possible for us to own such amazing pieces of art!

  • Sheena
    Reply

    My mom and I bought paintings while on a cruise to Alaska o the holland America line. She got 3 kink aids and 2 husband and wife paintings that I can’t remember…I won two paintings on the cruise. First time we had been at an art auction and first time we paid any attention to what was being said about ea piece. We love peter max pieces.

  • Sue O'Neill-Cooper
    Reply

    First Art Auction on Indy last year, went to see what happens and at end of 2 weeks had purchased 7 pieces. This year I’m excited to be going to the art auction as I am to be going on again on Indy.

  • Jim Willox
    Reply

    On my last cruise my wife and I said we are not buying anymore art work ,as a matter of fact let’s not bother even going into the gallery. Well what happens the art work is in the hall ways, we go into the gallery and $50.000.00 later a few pics and a major Peter Max sculpture.

  • Dennis Paul Carreiro
    Reply

    What started with 1 Lebo while on the RCCL Majesty of the Seas to Cuba in 2018 has turned into a whole house of art! I enjoy the auctions and getting to know the teams. Each of them have different personalities and are fun in their own way. This past cruise, the Celebrity Solstice with Andreis and his team was phenomenal. I felt like part of the team!!

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