Park West Gallery art auction on cruises revisited

Not long after my Alaskan cruise, I wrote about Park West Gallery. You see these guys on many cruise ships auctioning paintings. They also run art history seminars and stuff like that.

Anyway, there had been some negative articles about them but I wrote that I was happy with my experience and that the people who had been “ripped off” were responsible for their purchases. If you decide to spend $25,000 on a painting without shopping around because the salesman tells you it’s a bargain, who do you blame when you later find the painting could be bought for less?

I did talk to one Art Gallery owner who warned me to stay away from Park West. I had already spent my $2,000 so I worriedly asked him why. He said that he had never heard of anyone getting a good deal from them with the possible exception of “lower end stuff.” Now this same guy was telling me that the small Romero Britto “Blue Dog” or “Tiny Temptations” sculptures (numbered out of 1,000) were inferior investments to the bigger ones numbered out of 100. The smaller ones were in the $700 range while the bigger ones were in the $8-10,000 range.

I think it’s safe to say that I’m buying lower end stuff…

So anyway, a few weeks ago 2 of the 3 pieces I bought arrived. When we went to get them framed we realized they were damaged. There were a few little white spots that wouldn’t come off. I called Park West and they said they’d replace them as soon as I sent the damaged ones back. They would pay for shipping.

So the replacements came and were in fine condition. Then the 3rd piece came. So I now have a Mouly “Le Peintre et le Modele” on my bedroom wall where there used to be a cheap $20 poster of some flowers in a $30 frame. The room looks 100 times better.

The other two I need to go get framed (the Mouly came framed) but I’m sure they will make our home look fabulous.

Did I get a good deal? Who knows? I’m no art expert. I did take their advice though – the Park West guys said to buy art you like. Otherwise you’ll be looking at it thinking about how much money you spent instead of how much you like the art. I love the art I bought so I’m happy with my purchase.

I also have trouble imagining that I was totally ripped off. Granted I’m buying lower end stuff but a print numbered out of 300, signed by the artist, and costing a few hundred bucks seems reasonable to me.

Somehow I got lost – the point I was going to arrive at here was that the Park West customer service was as good as I could have expected. I had to call a few times to find out what was going on because they didn’t call or email me to follow up (which they said they would) but in the end they were completely honest with me; they replaced the pieces I was unhappy with at no extra charge.

I did a news search for Park West Gallery and found a press release from a website trying to sell a video of a German art detective determining that two Dali prints sold by Park West (for thousands of dollars) are fakes. Doesn’t seem like a real reliable source to me.

I found a blogger claiming there’s no art worthy of a Christie’s auction but I saw Rembrandt and Picasso prints on my cruise. Unlike some people crying online though, I didn’t spend $30,000 on a Picasso I don’t like, and know so little about I can’t even tell if it’s genuine or not.

I also learned that Park West now has a 40 day refund policy. There used to be no refunds at all. There’s also some kind of exchange system in place.

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