As an art lover I’m delighted to see passengers anxiously waiting, in Champagne enclosed bar areas, on a ship, ready to bid on works of art.  As a tenacious-informed-arts-lover, I cringe when I witness what goes on during these on-board auctions.

The brochure read, “Bringing fine art to the world”. I think it should have read ‘You can bring back an arts souvenir from your trip, but buyers beware, it’s a copy”.  Even the Picasso’s and Chagall’s for sale are wonderful but they are just reproduced prints.

The works on every cruise, everywhere, are a business transaction.  Are bidders really getting their money’s worth?  I’m always surprised at the pitches.  Bidders are led to believe that they are getting ‘as close as possible to original work of art’. Does anyone really think they can acquire a Rembrandt or da Vinci for a few hundred dollars?  Really?

I recently sat in on one of the hundreds of art auctions that I’ve enjoyed on cruises for a number of years.  I especially enjoy the spiel.  I like to listen to the hosts who have very limited information about art but are diligent in following a script with vigor.  They are great sales people yet they vomit out a show’s worth of artistic errors with no indignations from the audience.

Art on ships is equivalent to selecting a pair of shoes.  You can buy an original pair of Jimmy Choo or Louboutin heels for thousands of dollars or you can buy copies.  It depends on your standards.  I’m OK with copies.  Cheap copies. That’s just me. But as least I know that my hard earned money is buying reproductions.  I’m not sure most people examining the art being auctioned on the vessels understand that.

Be advised that what you purchase on a ship will be colorful, fun, dreamy and probably give your guests back home an eyeful of your savvy arts maneuverability.  However…learn before you bid.  There are serigraphs, polymorphs, giclees on canvas, signed in ink prints, photographs, lithographs, etc.  All of the above are copies.  If the work is signed in ink, which signifies that the artist signed a copy of the work in ink, it does not mean that the work is an original ink drawing.  Passengers get off of ships with their attractive prints, gleeful of their new purchases and assured by the sales people that they are the proud owners of original prints.  That happens to be a truthful statement…but folks; you are the proud owners of prints!

The photo included is of a Statue of Liberty water color that I painted for fun, on a recent transatlantic cruise.  I would have gladly sold my ORIGINAL signed, watercolor, produced on archival paper, inspired by a Max print for as little as $30. Sadly no one on the ship seemed interested in my original. Maybe I should have photocopied my work and tried to sell the copies?  Oh well.

By the way, if you want to really emerge yourselves in some great art, walk around any cruise ship and check out the art exhibited around each deck.  It’s world class, museum quality and stunning.  Even the numbered prints are amazing. However, have you ever noticed that the art available for purchase on a ship is never art that is on view throughout the ship? Ummmm, I wonder why?