Art Auctions Hit the Fan (Again)

Some passengers like the art auctions on cruise ships and some don’t. The complaints against art auctions have worked their way from blogs and local and regional newspapers to a major feature in the July 16 issue of The New York Times.

In an article that starts on the front page of The Arts section and runs an entire page inside, the reporter concludes that art auctions leads to anger, accusations and lawsuits, citing many examples of passengers that feel they were cheated and that the art sales were misrepresented.  Park West Gallery of Michigan is said to handle the largest volume of sales at sea.

According to the article, some passengers felt they were in a secure environment onboard the ship and were thus more likely to believe the value claims made by the auctioneers, while also being buttered up with complimentary champagne.

The flip-side to us (Cruise Industry News) is that it is hard to believe that passengers actually believe they can buy original Picassos, Rembrandts or Dalis on ships. In one example, a passenger paid $19,468 for three Dali prints, only to come home and have them appraised from $850 to $1,000.

Another passenger went to a German art fraud detective with his purchases and were told that they were photomechanical reproductions and not litographs. The German called them poster art, according to The New York Times.

There are three things that we (Cruise Industry News) do not like on the ships, the first is the photographers that have a tendency to always stick a camera in your face; the second is the art auctions, and although passengers do not have to attend, the exhibits and the auctions are prominently positioned and conducted so they are hard to avoid. Our third gripe is the sales pressure in the spa. These are areas where the cruise line need to work to clean up their act.

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