Art on Royal is an auction house that auctions art on the high seas aboard ships from Royal Caribbean Cruises. But is selling art and having art auctions on the high seas an elaborate scam by Art on Royal to con innocent cruisers on Royal Caribbean Cruise ships? This post will give you a better idea of how art auctions are done by Art on Royal during our recent cruise aboard the Mariner of the Seas – one of the 22 ships from Royal Caribbean Cruise that works with Art on Royal.
How does Art on Royal operate on Royal Caribbean Cruise ships
As you may have read from our Royal Caribbean Cruise (Mariner of the Seas) post, you would know that we have bought the art piece “Lovely” by Romero Britto during the Champagne Art Auction for $650USD. After purchasing the piece, we did some googling of our own (a bit too late right?) and found out the following information which you may find useful while attending these Champagne Art Auctions by Art on Royal aboard Royal Caribbean Cruise ships.
1. Free Champagne. As Tom (the cruise director, not me) would say, “a drinking crowd is a buying crowd”. The free champagne given out by Art on Royal are usually cheap ones which (again) Tom would say “just drink it when it’s chilled” and the alcohol may give rise to clouded judgement and ultimately a purchase that you don’t really want.
2. Assurance. Tom would usually start off with assurances of buying with Art on Royal. This would include
- “30 day money back guarantee”. If for whatever reason at all, maybe you were too drunk, repainted your house (such that the colours of the art don’t match) or simply because you don’t like the art anymore, you can return the art and they’ll even pay for shipping (both ways) and return your sum of money.
- One of the biggest art auction houses. Tom cited 2 other art galleries that possibly have more art pieces sold (in terms of quantity and dollar value), making Art on Royal the “3rd largest art auction house in the world” or “largest art auction house on the high seas”
- Cheaper because… You may then start to wonder why the prices of the art onboard are cheaper. He then allay those concerns by saying that the art is cheaper because unlike “brick and mortar” art galleries, they do not sell art back ashore – meaning they have cheaper overheads. But more importantly, Art on Royal buys directly from the artists themselves so they are able to obtain cheaper pieces that are ONLY available during the cruise.
3. Start with a cheap piece of art and freebie giveaway. To get the crowd excited, Tom will usually start by giving away freebies by drawing raffle tickets which you have placed into a bucket just before the start of the auction. A free bottle of champagne or a dinner for 2 are usually given away in the first instance, stirring interest in the crowd. In addition, he will often start with a piece that “usually goes for 300USD in galleries” that has a starting bid of perhaps 20USD to get the crowd going.
4. Professional Art Terminologies. During the introduction of each art piece, Tom will use art terminologies like “editions”, “strike the plate” and “embellishment” to emphasise the value of each art piece. He will also describe various accolades (one of the top artist of the year, previously worked with disney, sells in major art galleries across the world) that the artist has achieved, again to emphasise the value of the art.
5. Priced at a steal. Just before he announces the auction price, he would say that something along the lines of “all day long, you would expect to get this piece from $2000 to $3000 in art galleries around the world”. Then he will say that “we’ll start this piece at $400″ – usually about 1/3 to 1/5 the “all day long price”.
Why Art on Royal at Royal Caribbean Cruise may possibly be a scam
After bidding for our art piece (btw Romero Britto did many art pieces at Sentosa you know?), we decided to start googling whether this was some kind of an elaborate art scam and here are some of the information we’ve gathered from various cruise and art forums
1. Art on Royal only does auction on sea days. If you notice, art auctions only occur on sea days. According to one of the forums, this means that they are not legally binded to any state laws while out at sea. International laws on art auctions at sea? Iffy at best.
2. Late or no delivery. If you do a quick google on these art auctions, you’ll find that there are MANY who receive their art pieces late or some of them simply “magically disappear”. Because of these many instances, art auctions at sea have been clouded with much prejudice about their authenticity.
3. Same techniques to generate interest in bidding. No matter which art auction at sea you attend, you’ll realise that they use the same techniques of free flowing champagnes, freebies, low prices to lure you into making that bid for a “valuable” art piece worth “more than $5000″.
How you should prepare for Art Auctions on Royal Caribbean Cruises
After all the information above that says Art on Royal may POSSIBLY be an art scam aboard Royal Caribbean Cruise ships, what should you do to prepare yourself?
1. Educate yourself. Like many experienced stockbrokers will tell you, don’t buy into a stock that you don’t know. Likewise, learn more about a particular art piece before you “invest” in one. You may wish to find out more about an artist, his collaboration with the cruise, his works and whether they really have certain value for editions or only investment value for originals.
2. Prove of Authenticity. If you watch Neal Caffrey from “White Collar”, you’ll know that there’s always some way to prove whether an art piece is authentic. The artist may have a stamp, have certain trademarks, leave a sign that’s intertwined into the art work or simply sign his name in a particular way. In addition, go for art pieces that have AP or GP (Artist Prove and Gallery Prove respectively). These will almost surely give you an assurance that the art piece is good to go.
3. Buy it only if you like it and worth the price. Do not buy an art piece because you think that the value may rise after all that the auctioneer has said. Buy it because you like it. Buy it because it is a piece that you will place at home. Buy it because you think the piece is worth the price that you’re paying AND if you like it. Because after all, art (or beauty) is in the eye of the beholder and if you really appreciate the piece, chances are someone out there may appreciate it as well.
As what we have written in our post on the 8d7n Mariner of the Seas Cruise, the best way to enjoy such Champagne Art Auctions is to
1. Firstly, keep away the bidding card (tear it up if possible – discreetly)
2. Learn a thing or two about art (like we have)
3. Drink to your heart’s content
4. Hopefully win some freebies from the raffle tickets giveaway
Otherwise, do follow our recommendations above if you really intend to bid on a piece. If you’re reading this post now, just to let you know, we have not received our art piece as yet. But we’ll update and let you guys know once we’ve received it.
Final Update : We received a mail that indicated Art on Royal was not able to deliver the art piece. Nonetheless, we managed to get a refund on our payment. Thankfully!
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P.S. Remember to follow our recommendations above closely!