I am not one who normally complains about things, but I feel it is my duty to report my experience with Park West Gallery (at Sea). Last week I went on a cruise with Royal Caribbean. While on the cruise, my wife and I attended not 1, not 2, but 3 of Park West's ripoff art auctions.
Having never purchased art before, we were very naive (as were most people on the ship). There were signs everywhere saying "40% to 80% Off Art" and things like that. Since we just bought a condo, we thought we would adorn the walls with some nice, yet affordable, paintings. We also thought that Royal Caribbean would only do business with reputable establishments.
We finally found a painting we really liked ("It Doesn't Get Much Better" by Thomas Kinkade) and decided to purchase it. Well, the auctioneer (Paul) informed us that "...on land, this painting sells for $700 to $1000..." We purchased it at $270. At all 3 auctions we attended, he said that it sells on land for $700 to $1000. We truly thought we had a bargain.
Yesterday I went to http://www.thomaskinkade.com and found the exact same piece of art for $285! I subsequently called Park West, where a woman told me "I don't know why he (Paul) would say something like that." She also informed me that the painting is actually on paper, not on canvas.
At the other 2 auctions we were duped again and again, until we dropped approximately $1000 on 'art', shipping, and appraising. We purchased a painting by Alexander Chen ("Washington Square Park") for $95. The acutioneer (Paul) said that "...on land this sells for $400...". You can get it online for about $125. That doesn't seem to be such a wonderful deal after you have to have it shipped!
Overall we enjoyed the auctions, even though they weren't real auctions. We even like the pictures we purchased. But, beware of the claims by Park West about their massive savings!