Many of the activities on board cruise ships fail to interest me, but nothing makes me run for the pool deck faster than an art auction. I have no aversion to the visual arts, but I have an aversion to making any financial decision quickly, under competitive pressure and with a drink in my hand.
These are pretty much the circumstances under which people wake up in Las Vegas, hung over and newly married. You might be happy with the results but, really, how good are the odds?
I do recognize that some people find on-board art auctions fun and interesting, and they are pleased with their purchases. I’m happy for them. But there is a consensus of expert opinion that a cruise ship auction is not the smartest way to invest in fine art.
Anyone who is thinking they’d like to buy art this way, especially if they think of it as an investment instead of a home-decorating purchase, ought to at least read these cautions:
A Legal Commentary on the Park West at Sea Art Auction Invoice is a lawyer’s intepretation of the sales documents used by the biggest art auctioneering company working on cruise ships.
This forum thread on the same site, entitled Park West and Cruise Ship Auctions, has some interesting stories and some give-and-take between a company representative and a writer who is researching cruise ship auctions.
A database consultant who is also a licensed auctioneer has written some trenchant observations about cruise ship art auctions.
Some cruise experts are joining the art experts, legal experts and financial experts who question cruise ship art auctions. In a piece on CruiseMates.com Paul Motter wrote about several things he would change if he ran a cruise line. One of them would be eliminating art auctions:
Buying art for your home should be an informed decision based on in-depth research into the piece you are considering. A 5-minute talk on giclee printing techniques presented with a glass of champagne does not qualify as enough background for you to justify an investment over $1000. We realize this is a controversial topic for the cruise lines, because they make a lot of money from these events. In our opinion, they reek of hucksterism and detract from the overall relaxed air of the ship. Many of our readers agree.
I won’t even try to say that better myself.