Anybody who forsakes the casino for an "educational" experience at the art auction is simply trading one form of gambling for another!
Much of what is sold at the art auctions is poster junk. BUT, I have found two real bargains at Park West auctions aboard ship, and snapped them both up. The only reason I knew they were bargains is that they were a genre I know something about and collect, and am very familiar with true values. Both now appraise for approximately three times what I paid.
But if you don't know anything about prices, you're a lamb waiting for slaughter.
On the other hand, one legitimate school of thought says that if you REALLY like something and it's less than $500 (and you can afford $500 without paying interest on your credit card), then buy it because you might not see it again. But once you get over $500, you really better damn well know what you're doing.