Royal Caribbean Drops Park West Gallery

05-11-10 Royal Caribbean Drops Park West Gallery

Park West Art Auctions, suffering from fraud allegations, loses a major customer in Royal Caribbean

In the latest blog of Adam Goldstein, president of Royal Caribbean Cruises, he quietly drops this bombshell:

Quick note #2 - our contract with Park West Art Services has expired and we have decided not to renew it. There is a wind down period in effect and the art auctioneers will finish on different ships at different times over the next few months. 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.

As we have been reporting, Park West Gallery has been embroiled in a lawsuit with a Phoenix company called Fine Art Registry. Park West sued FAR when it published reports online that it had proof that Park West Gallery has been selling fraudulent Salvador Dali prints on several cruise ships, including Royal Caribbean.

In fact - Royal Caribbean is named as a co-defendant in at least one future class action lawsuit against Park West Gallery. These prints were sold to dozens of people for anywhere from $10,000 to over $500,000 in some cases where buyers bought what they were told were complete collections of authentic prints.

Before the advent of these class action lawsuits, Park West decided to proceed with a lawsuit against Fine Art Registry alleging defamation for the articles concerning the Dali prints. Park West sued in a Michigan federal court asking for an incredible $46 million in damages - an extraordinary sum.

The trial lasted five weeks. In the end the jury awarded Park West nothing in their case. The jury awarded Fine Art Registry damages of $500,000 for a trademark infringement by Park West who they believe used FAR's trademark to make a web site similar to the Fine Art Registry site but without the same Park West fraud allegations.

Terri Franks, president of Fine Art Registry, had this reaction to the announcement by Royal Caribbean, "It would be a shame for RCL to completely scrap the art program aboard its ships just because of Park West Gallery's bad business practices. Rather, a completely new program should be implemented that first educates the cruise passengers with regard to visual art, creating a complete experience for young and old alike, including sophisticated art buyers that would have never purchased from the likes of Park West simply because they knew better."

"A whole new revenue stream could be created for the cruise lines as a result of an overhauled art program. Good, solid education for cruise passengers presented by a variety of trusted professionals on how to purchase and appreciate visual art would necessarily translate into increased visual art sales (and preferably original works of art offered by emerging contemporary artists) so that the cruise experience transcends the ordinary and results in repeat cruisers who seek out the art program because of its EXCELLENCE above all which would resonate with the cruise passenger long after they return home and would ultimately translate into a savvy art buying public and at the same time very satisfied cruise passengers overall."

"This would result in renewed consumer trust in the RCL brand as it relates to the art program as well as other cruise brands that might be looking for a refreshing change in the tired art programs that now seem to plague the industry. I believe keen, watchful care and management is absolutely critical to a successful art program aboard cruise ships."

The cruise lines have made a lot of money from art auctions, but certainly less over the years as the economy and the allegations of fraud by Park West have become better known. Park West still has contracts with several other cruise lines, but as matters are only looking worse for Park West going forward with more lawsuits scheduled it seems inevitable that if Royal Caribbean will not renewed their contract then other cruise lines will follow suit.

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