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