Cruise Ship Art Auctions: Legit or Junk

Art auctions are well known among cruisers, every cruise has them.  There recently was a debate among cruisers over whether the art at these auctions were worth the money people pay or are they junk by unknown artists.  Most of the art work offered at these auctions are lithographs or serigraphs, though sometimes they do have original paintings. 

Some of the top selling artist on cruise ship auctions is Emile Bellet, Itzchak Tarkay, and Peter Max.

Emile Bellet was born in France in 1941.  He began painting at the age of 15 and had his first exhibition when he was 19.  He is a self taught artist.

Itzchak Tarkay was born in 1935 in Subotica on the Yugoslav-Hungarian border. Towards the end of World War II, Tarkay was sent with his family to the Mathausen concentration camp by the Nazis. Tarkay was only nine years old at this time. Tarkay’s family survived and returned home after the war and Itzchak developed a keen interest in art, He won a prize for excellence in painting while still in school in Subotica. In 1949 Tarkay and his family immigrated to Israel and were sent to the transit camp for new arrivals at Beer Yaakov. 

Peter Max has painted for 6 U.S. Presidents.  His art is on display in Presidential Libraries and U.S. Embassies.  He has painted Lady Liberty annually since the bicentennial.  He was named the official artist of the 2006 U.S. Olympic team.  He also has been the official artist for 5 super bowls, world cup, the world series, the U.S. open, Indy 500, NYC Marathon and the Kentucky Derby.

Original paintings by these artist  sell thousands of dollars.  Some for tens of thousands.  After looking at several sources, prices for the artists at the cruise ship auctions are fair prices.

I have heard some people on cruise ships say they are buying artwork as an investment.  However, unless you buy an original painting I don’t see it as a good investment.  There are so many copies sold, the investment value really isn’t there.

The moral of the story is, buy what you like because you like it.  Put it on your wall and enjoy it and if someday its worth more than what you paid for it, it’s just icing on the cake.  Think about how much you would pay for a nice picture at the store and that should be your spending limit.

Some of the pictures at the cruise ship auctions are really nice.  I personally love Itzchak Tarkay and have looked at many different venues but the prices for his work are consistently high and out of my budget but I just love his watercolors. 

I personally do enjoy attending the art auctions, if you get a good auctioneer they can be really fun to attend.  Also I have won artwork three times!  Its much easier to win a prize at the auction verses other drawings on the ship.  At the art auction there is usually a small group of people but at the jewelry drawings there can be hundreds of people.  And there are usually things that you can do to earn additional raffle tickets.  The nice thing about the auctions is that you get a mini lesson on art and the different types of art and how they are created.

If you plan on attending the auction remember you are buying a piece of home décor not an investment piece.  (unless its an original painting).