Cruise art seller, Park West, accused of fraud

It looks like Royal Caribbean just dodged a bullet. The cruise line announced last month that it wasn’t going to renew its contract with art auction provider Park West – and the timing couldn’t be better. Passengers who have purchased pieces from Park West are coming out of the woodwork with accusations that Park West was peddling “fake, forged and overpriced work and using phony appraisals and certificates of authenticity,” according to USA Today.

One passenger, Marti Szosta, picked up 21 pieces from Park West while on Royal Caribbean cruises from 2005 to 2007 – some of the art market‘s hottest years – and dropped $48,000 in the process. “I was sick, I could hardly breathe” she was quoted as saying when she learned of the value of her art investment.

Says USA Today:

Szostak tells the news outlet she worked three jobs to pay for the art and then decided to sell, only to be told by art dealers that the art was largely worthless. She says experts told her signatures on limited-edition prints by Dalí she had bought at the auctions were forged.

Several buyers are now suing Park West, which faces charges of racketeering, fraud and violating consumer protection laws. Albert Scaglione, Park West’s founder, denies the allegations and says, “We have never done anything wrong.”

Royal Caribbean brings hammer down on art auctions

If you liked the art auctions on your Royal Caribbean cruises, brace yourself. In a post on his blog, the company’s president and CEO, Adam Goldstein, wrote that the contract it had with Park West Art Services to run its auctions on the ships expired and that it isn’t going to renew.

He adds that other art-related endeavors could be on the chopping block as well: “We are evaluating what if any art-related programming we may offer in the fleet in the future beyond Oasis of the Seas where Art Actually is our provider of art tours and art for purchase onboard.”

For now, Royal Caribbean and Park West Art Services are going through a “wind down period” as the art auctioneers wrap up on different ships over the next few months.