Following is one of our favorite recent letters and we would like to say thank you by posting it here, on our new Customer Service blog. Please email Park West Gallery to submit your positive feedback...and you never know, you just might see yourself published!
[Dear] Park West Galleries, Art Auction at Sea Director:
My wife and I sailed on the Carnival 'Victory' 7/21-7/26/08 out of New York and we wanted to share with you our experience with your art auctions.
We take at least one cruise a year and always look forward to the Art at Sea Auctions. Not only are they a welcome break from the usual shipboard activities but they also give us a chance to learn more about art, artists and styles. As we headed down to dinner on our first night, we noticed a table had been set up near one of the dining rooms advertising the Park West Auction and a contest to guess the price of a Picasso. We had seen and participated in this raffle before so we walked over to try our luck again. At the moment, it was unmanned but within 30 seconds, we heard someone call out to us 'hello strangers'. We turned around to see our old friend Sandeep who had recognized us from across the room. This will be our 4th cruise and 3rd in a row that Sandeep has been one of our art representatives. We were amazed that he remembered our names given the thousands of people he has come in contact with. He also asked if we were happy with our last purchases, which he remembered by artist. We laughed at the odds of seeing each other again especially since we've embarked at various parts of the country each time and on different cruise lines. We talked briefly and he told us that the main auctioneer's name was Ian and that he would be down in the gallery all evening and to stop by and see the display of art.
After dinner, we went down to the gallery to look at the display. We always like to meet our auctioneer beforehand and see what they are like and what artists they enjoy and collect. That first night is always a good night to meet the Park West representatives because most guests are busy trying to find suitcases, rooms and dining facilities so it gives us time to chat. We met Ian and his assistant Amanda and we were immediately impressed with their knowledge and passion for art. We also found that they along with Sandeep had visited the special Dali exhibit at the MOMA in New York as we did before the cruise, so we had even more things to talk about. We left knowing that we would enjoy ourselves at the first auction the next day.
The first auction day is always a cautionary day for us because we don't know what's on board the ship. That's one of the reasons we go and talk to our auctioneers and get an idea of what may be available. To our surprise, this was possibly one of the biggest in number and selection of art and artists that we had ever seen at a sea auction. We were very impressed at what was available. We tend to gravitate towards the 'finer' pieces of art nowadays. We think that's because over the years, we have spoken to so many Park West representatives that have given us honest information in regards to what is collectible that we feel more confident and knowledgeable when we look at artwork. We always reflect back to our first auction 8 years ago when we felt so out of place amongst all the beautiful pieces of art. We didn't buy anything that cruise. In fact, we left before it started thinking we had WalMart prints at home. What would we do with fine art?
So on the first auction, we got to see Ian in action. What a ham! He was great. He got the good-sized crowd laughing at his bad jokes and everyone was at ease and having a good time. During the preview we looked at some pieces by Agam, which we have considered before. We requested an opening bid quote from Sandeep to decide whether we wanted to have a piece brought up. In the process, Sandeep told us about the collectibility of Agam as well. Strangely, we didn't get our price quote from him but instead a 'suggestion' to wait and talk after the auction. Well as it turned out, the very piece we were looking at came up as a mystery piece during the auction. Now we always raise our bid card during the mystery piece because it's fun, all in attendance can get involved and you always get a great deal. We now own an Agam. As it turns out, Ian owns the same piece. Since we had attended the Dali exhibit in New York, we became more fascinated with his works so we inquired about some of the art on board. It was great talking to Ian, Amanda and Sandeep about Dali since we all got to share what we had seen at the museum. We got some information that we needed to think about before the next auction in regards to pieces that were available and what we might want to collect.
On the 2nd and last auction of the cruise, we went to the preview a bit early armed with questions about collecting Dali. We talked to Ian, Amanda and Sandeep in depth about Dali. We can honestly say we walked away both more knowledgeable and more confused. There are so many choices of Dali's work available out there. They are all interesting in their own way and you really have to love a piece to want to own it. You should be proud that your Park West staff did not sell us a Dali that day. Instead, they emphasized one of the most important philosophies of buying art. We learned a long time ago from one of our favorite Park West auctioneers, J.C., that you should always buy the best medium of art that you can afford and that it should be a piece that you can look at everyday, still find something new in it that you have never seen before and still love owning it. That is what they made us remember. We are so glad that philosophy is still being taught to all the new auctioneers. During the actual preview as my wife and I wandered separately around the room, two works of art caught our eye. Mind you now that we had just gotten through this discussion about Dali and what a step up in collecting art that would be. We brought Ian over to find out the opening bid on a Britto litho. He gave us a little smirk like you just stepped down a bit given the lengthy consideration we just went through over buying a Dali. What can we say, we really liked it. Next we walked him over to a Miro. We think Ian's spirits and confidence in us returned.
The works of Miro have fascinated us for many years. We have never really liked the pieces we have seen before. They have been interesting but not something we could love everyday and not always affordable. We were given the opening bid and Ian made sure to explain to us this was a big step up in collecting, even bigger than a Dali. He said we should take some time to decide on this one. We moved the art to a place we could look at it more closely and discuss it. We appreciated the fact that Ian, Amanda and Sandeep all came by separately to ask us if we had questions or concerns and each gave us some information they knew about the piece and the artist. Maybe this is the kind of treatment you get when you are about to spend a large sum of money on artwork? We can honestly say though that the extra attention we were getting was not out of want to make a good sale but out of concern and respect. We have never met a Park West employee who acts like the sale is the most important thing. At any of the auctions we have attended, an important element is to gain knowledge of art by being exposed to different artists and styles. Sometimes we walk away with art, sometimes we don't. Last year we bought a Chagall (thank you Sandeep) after much consideration. Would we be disappointed if we didn't buy this Miro? Probably, but at the same time we were enjoying ourselves with the possibility that we could own this lovely piece of art. A final stop by Ian before the auction began to ask if we had reached a decision. We then took our seats for the auction and Ian went up on stage.
Again Ian began with the corny jokes. There is never a hook around when you need one. One by one different requests were brought up and bid on. Mystery pieces revealed, raffle tickets given away, everyone having a good time and then the most wonderful piece of art was brought to the stage. Next to Ian was THE MIRO!! After a brief explanation about the art, it's artists and it's importance in the art world, it was time to open the bidding. Our card #106 was up in a flash. We suddenly realized 'what if someone else was going to bid too?' Those were the most agonizing seconds of our lives. No one else bid and I'm not sure if Ian would have let them as fast as the gavel came down. After the auction, Ian, Amanda and Sandeep all came over to congratulate us. We were so happy to share our joy with them. That evening at final checkout it was sad to say goodbye to our newest Park West Gallery friends Ian and Amanda. Sandeep we figured we would probably see again next year somewhere so his goodbyes are less final.
After every cruise we go on, we like to drop a note (or in this case an essay) to let you know how satisfied we are with the people and services you provide. It's always a pleasure to meet different auctioneers who are still able to pass on new information on art and artists. Each of your auctioneers brings their own style of wit, presentation and professionalism. They all have the ability to teach potential buyers about art, how to appreciate art and artists, learn about art and relate to all people regardless of economic status. Most of all though, they know how to have fun and pass that on to their audience so that it's a great time for everyone in attendance. Thank you Ian, Amanda and Sandeep for another wonderful cruise. And thank you Park West for another enjoyable auction.
P.S. We still ended up with the Britto litho. We loved it.
Patrick & Diane A." (Plantation, Florida)