Mar 19, 2014

Cruise Ship Art Values a Matter of Knowing Appraisals

Wandering through the house with the executor, I tried to get a sense of the contents of the estate. I was immediately curious about the dozens of shipping tubes I saw; they were everywhere. There were tubes in closets, on shelves and in the spaces beneath the beds.

I asked if the decedent an architect. No, he was a school teacher.

As it turned out, the tubes weren’t filled with building plans; they were filled with art purchased from auctions aboard cruise ships. A fan of shipboard “champagne art auctions,” the teacher had amassed quite a large collection of art.

Like many comfortably situated seniors, the decedent cruised a couple of times a year during his retirement. More than 20 million people—almost 20 percent of the U.S. population—cruise annually. The demographics of cruisers match well the demographics of collectors; they are age 50 or older with an average household income of $109,000, 86 percent are college graduates and 38 percent are retired.

Onboard art auctions are a popular attraction. They are designed to be part entertainment, part sales venue. The primary art vendor for the major cruise lines, Park West Gallery, sells in excess of $300 million annually. That’s a lot of art, and it’s cropping up at estate sales and online auctions across the country. A quick search of WorthPoint’s Worthopedia Price Guide lists 4,326 results under the search term “Park West Gallery.” I’m sure that if I searched by individual artist, I would find even more cruise-ship art on the market. Read More...

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