Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Art Auctions at Sea (whats up with that?)

Any seasoned cruiser knows about the Art Auctions at sea and have formed their own opinions about them, but for the first time cruiser this can be an overwhelming experience. Many ships offer these auctions. Some are hosted by land based companies that contract with the cruise line, but it is becoming more common for many cruise lines to create their own department and cut out the middleman. The big draw for many passengers is that champagne is free during the duration of the auction, which can last a few hours. But the big questions are simple, but not simple to answer. What kind of Art? Is it worth it? Will I be happy with my purchase?

What kind of Art?
There will be lithographs, serigraphs, etchings, variations of the three, some sports memorabilia, and the occasional painting. The thing to keep in mind is that most often, you are bidding on a "print" ( I want to use this word loosely) of some sort that regardless of the process, is one of a number of copies produced. Most often the one you receive will be mailed to you from land in a tube, and not the actual one on display on board the ship. Frames are usually not include, but can be purchased separately. We have bought at the auctions, and are happy with what we received, but were well informed as to what we were bidding on. Anyone who is not sure of what they may be get, needs to ask as many questions as needed. The worst purchase to make is an uninformed one.

Is it worth it?
Going to the auction itself can be worth it. Besides the free champagne, one can learn a lot about different art styles and watch the frantic bidding on some of the works up for auction. If you have no plans of making a purchase, it is not mandatory to sign up to bid, but you still can participate in the champagne. Some cruise lines will have a pre auction seminar in which they try to educate what the different mediums (what I call prints) are. If you want to buy and are on a ship that offers this, go! It will greatly help in figuring out what you like, and what you want, and often there will be prizes given away to those who are paying attention (oh and the free champagne).

Will I be happy with my purchase?
I put this here because I have been to the auctions, watched people bid, and then read online, and talked to a couple of people that swear they were duped. I have three pieces of advice here:

  1. Understand what you are bidding on
  2. Have a budget in mind before even bidding
  3. Don't assume things will go up in value (buy what you like, not what you think is an investment unless you are experienced to do so, I know I am not)

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