“It’s often garbled, it goes too fast,” he said, suggesting he might introduce better signs explaining things. Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival all host Park West. He got no further than astronomy. Minutes later, Cilliers offered a Romero Britto picture, saying it was worth up to $4,200 but could be had for a bid of $1,390. They spotted four they liked, including a “limited edition” Kinkade lighthouse and a landscape of a bridge in France by the Chinese-born, North Carolina-based Daniel Wall. As Miller checked out the newly hung pictures, her husband was at Cilliers’s desk in the back, watching a video on a laptop. (Mazzeo declined to comment.) )Park West, the biggest art gallery in the world, knows how to sell at sea—where there’s bad Wi-Fi and plenty of Champagne.After registering for a bid card that would be their auction paddle, Bisset, 48, and Miller, 51, walked the perimeter of the disco, examining the 300 pictures on display. Then a trio of pictures came to the block, valued at $19,150. Another tactic is bidding by elimination. “The scheme targeted individuals who, while unawares relaxing on their vacations, are wined and dined by Park West and Cruise Line employees and are subjected to Defendants’ art fraud scheme,” a 2010 plaintiffs’ filing in the lawsuit said. In the 1940s, Dalí had collaborated with Walt Disney on a short film, It was on canvas, but was it a painting? She won’t be getting the exact ones. Park West Gallery has represented and sold the works of Peter Max to collectors worldwide for nearly half a century. Wearing a dark suit and lime-green tie, Cilliers told newcomers that if they wanted the free Champagne or raffle tickets, they needed to sign up for a bid card. And they all get a cut of the revenue. It would’ve been confusing for anyone who didn’t understand that that exact picture wasn’t for sale—that Park West had hundreds, possibly thousands, of identical copies from the print run in its warehouse. Hangs on his dining room wall. The husband, the back of his buzz-cut neck flushed red, beamed with relief.Being safely off the ship, I got in touch with Park West’s founder and chief executive officer, Albert Scaglione. Park West features ever-expanding collections from contemporary art icons like Peter Max, Yaacov Agam, Thomas Kinkade, and more, in addition to beautifully curated selections from classic masters like Albrecht Dürer, Rembrandt van Rijn, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and other art world legends. She won’t be getting the exact onesBefore bidding could start, the auctioneer instructed us to explore scores of artworks set up on easels around the room—impressionistic seasides, twee cottages by Thomas Kinkade, the Statue of Liberty as rendered by Peter Max, and a surreal composition featuring an anthropomorphic cocktail olive.Norwegian and the rest of the cruise lines have continued to give Park West access to their captive audience of bored, boozed-up, and broadband-deprived passengers. (At one auction I won a gift box with a watch, pen, and case for business cards. During a good year, that would be a single day of revenue. After a flurry of unintelligible auctionese, Cilliers banged his gavel on the side of the podium and asked for a round of applause for the Max. He’d conditioned the crowd into thinking anything under five figures might be a bargain.In all, Bisset and Miller spent $7,079 that afternoon. Cilliers searched the room for competitors, found none, and banged his wooden hammer. With a few high-end exceptions, it sells what are, essentially, reproductions with individual embellishments, such as a signature. That way, the shipboard floor samples can stay where they are. Park West is known for sprinkling in diversions like raffles and mystery items. Americans are Park West’s target market, he said, and they made up only about 10 percent of the Soon, Cilliers racked up sales. At $70, I counted eight bid cards still up, when he abruptly concluded the bidding, taking in a quick $560. According to Park West’s website, Wall is the founder of a movement called “intense impressionism.” Before the auction started, Park West offered to combine the four works into a single lot and negotiated with Bisset and Miller a starting bid of $5,100. (Some sore winners of such rounds later told me they’d thought the game would continue until there was a single remaining bidder, leaving them time to drop out. To find out, I booked a windowless cabin on the It was another chance to observe how Park West operates. Park West was founded in 1969, is based outside Detroit, and boasts it’s the world’s biggest art gallery.
It was a self-portrait etching of the artist wearing a flat cap. One perched herself over their shoulders, whispering.
It was a promo for artist Chris DeRubeis, with narration that described him as the pioneer of “abstract sensualism.” A little later, Bisset examined some serigraphs by Anatole Krasnyansky, pointing out the recurring Venetian carnival motif in each. “We’re not Sotheby’s or Christie’s,” he said.Rembrandt was the last Park West mystery to solve. Price lists in the court record show passengers spent tens of thousands of dollars on works that weren’t one-of-a-kind originals. An American couple had arranged a first bid of $9,790 and was hoping nobody pushed it higher. “These things aren’t always available.” The Dalí Among the passengers gathered for the art auction, the guy sitting in front of me seemed the most likely to have attended just for the free booze.