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Old January 20th, 2007, 01:15 PM
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Default Princess Art Auctions

I would caution people to stay from Art Auctions in general, just because I don't think it is a good idea to buy anything you haven't had a chance to research, unless you are comfortable with the price and not relying on what the Auctioneer says it is worth.

However, Princess is the only major cruise line to run their own art auctions, and they have had a few scandals. I hope they dump their current concessionaire and go with Park West like their sister companies soon. Someone has really been taking advantage over there. See our news story here:

http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/news/

1-20-07
Princes Cruises in Art Auction Scandal
Princess Cruise Lines has been auctioning and selling fruadulent and unauthorized prints of artist's paintings, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times . So far, the incidents are limited to Princess Cruises' in-house art program. Most other cruise lines, including close sisters P&O and Cunard, are run by another company, Park West Gallery, which is not involved in the scandal.

The "fakes" are so far associated with two specific artists; California artist Charlene Mitchell, who is known for her landscapes, nature scenes, portraits, and animal-in-action scenes, and John O'Brien. Both artists were working with a Los Angeles-based art reproduction company who sold the prints to Princess. The company, Fine Arts Treasures Gallery, in Van Nuys California, was owned by a Kristine Eubanks who is now in custody, held without bail, after a long investigation by the FBI, the IRS and the Los Angeles Police Department who seized 15 bank accounts connected to Eubanks. A source close to the investigation said several million dollars was frozen.

Princess claims they had absolutely no knowledge there was a problem with these prints, and Eubanks is now known to have sold her fakes through many other venues as well, including eBay and her own satellite-based television show. But at the time of the purchase, Eubanks was on probation after an arrest on charges of forgery, fraud, and grand theft. She was convicted in June 2005 in Los Angeles and given three years' probation. According to court documents, Eubanks used her dead business partner's American Express to run up more than $100,000. In October, a judge revoked Eubanks' probation on the credit card fraud conviction, and she is back in prison. A federal grand jury is expected to issue a new indictment leveling charges against Eubanks for the prints she sold to Princess.

Princess has promised to reimburse anyone who bought one of the fake prints. However, this is not the first time the Princess-connected onboard art operation has been in trouble, as an article in the Broward-Palm Beach New Times points out. There is currently a lawsuit from a couple who bought what they were told was a one-of-a-kind original painting which turned out to be one of a series of original paintings the artist was creating and Princess was selling, all of them as "one of a kind." Technically, there is nothing illegal about an artist copying his own work, but the couple who paid $71,000 for the pointing were quite upset to find an almost identical painting selling for much less on a trip to Europe. Then they also discovered the the same series was being sold on Princess ships.
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Old January 21st, 2007, 06:16 PM
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Paul,

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
The "fakes" are so far associated with two specific artists; California artist Charlene Mitchell, who is known for her landscapes, nature scenes, portraits, and animal-in-action scenes, and John O'Brien. Both artists were working with a Los Angeles-based art reproduction company who sold the prints to Princess. The company, Fine Arts Treasures Gallery, in Van Nuys California, was owned by a Kristine Eubanks who is now in custody, held without bail, after a long investigation by the FBI, the IRS and the Los Angeles Police Department who seized 15 bank accounts connected to Eubanks. A source close to the investigation said several million dollars was frozen.
(boldface added)

I saw this, but it sound like the problem rests with Princess's supplier rather than with Princess's art department in this instance.

It's also important to realize, in this instance, that illicit prints by a distributor licenced to produce prints by the artist are not the same as forgeries. Rather, they are identical to legal prints in all respects except the payment of the royalty that's owed to the artist. Thus, "fakes" is not a suitable noun here. If Princess makes good on the royalties that the distributor failed to pay, everybody should be happy.

That said, I concur completely with your comments about not buying art based upon representations that you can't verify independently. I believe that Princess Cruises was acting in good faith in these transactions, but that does not help people who bought art based upon representations that turned out to be incorrect.

Norm.
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Old January 21st, 2007, 07:26 PM
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I am not one to argue semantics, because it all boils down to pulling out the dictionary. But I staill say they were fakes because it isn't just a matter of whether the artist gets the royalties, it is also whether they are being sold as signed prints, in limited runs as authorized by the artists. These did not qualify in those terms.

Here is an article that addresses this concept reproduced in part below:
http://paigewest.typepad.com/art_add...ting_tips.html

Code:
Posted by: Alex | August 30, 2005 at 05:41 PM 

okay check it out.... i am an artist.. i have a masters in art... my parents went on one of those" carnival " cruise scams or whatnot..they went to the art auctions and bought a whole bunch of dali prints..i am a printmaking major just to let you guys know... this whole dali thing is a real catch 22. the park west guys basically have a whole crapload of uncertified prints that they probably bought a long time ago... and they are unloading it on champagne filled naive people just trying to get some sort of investment. art dealers are like used car salesmen.. and that is really sad. printmaking is a beautiful and valid artform..atleast in a traditional sense. a lithograph that has been printed from a stone or even a metal plate.. or a woodblock print with 4 or more colors is really hard to finish, muchless..if properly done a great investment.. especially if it was done while that artist was in school or it was a first edition.. probably no more than 300 prints if you are lucky.. if its a copper etching type of print look for an edition of around 50..copper gets worse as its ran under a press.. its a soft metal, and the dark lines are likely to get faded after even 10 pressings...but this is artist standard.. usually the first 10 prints of any image are generally the best.. after 10..it sucks...my parents took me on the carnival cruise and i wanted to puke.. they are some real bastards...look.. if you want a dali original..its not going to happen... if its a dali print..its second best.. if you really want to make money from art you have to go to your nearest local art dealer and find the painting or whatever it is that is original from someone that is unknown..the unknown artist is the one that will make you money.. when you buy a print you are making someone else rich.. not you...its a gamble anyways.. so just buy art from the ones in your area... its all about local history.. and the artists in your local area are the purest reflections of the things going on where you are..i wish more people understood.
Furthermore, there are links in the news article to OTHER misdeeds by the Princess art auctioneer, so, in my opinion it looks more like this program has a pattern of not living up to any normal set of principles. It appears to me they were still selling the prints after the person was put in jail without bail. The same person was convicted of fraud before Princess even started doing business with her.

If the "forger" was so good at it, why wasn't Park West taken in? They certainly sell a lot of art.

These auctioneers are supposed to be art experts, who know these artists almost personally. We are talking about very limited runs of pieces, hundreds, not even thousands. One wonders how many of these prints Princess acquired, and when they did, if they did not ask where the rest of the prints were being sold.

If I were representing a work of art, I would want to know everything about the run - how many were done originally, how many had already been sold, and to whom - who else was representing them, etc. Did Princess ask these questions? They work in the same office space as two cruise lines working with Park West; Cunard & Seabourn. Did they ever compare notes?

Princess won't comment, but the whole thing smells very fishy to me. I say you are a probably a sucker if you buy art on any ship based on what the auctioneer says it is worth, but especially on Princess under these circumstances.

By the way, Park West has had its share of scandals as well though most of them were a few years back. Do a Google on "Part West Art Lawsuit" and see what you get:

http://www.dba-oracle.com/t_cruise_a...scam_fraud.htm
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Bottom line, I am jusy not a fan of the "art auctions" at sea. They are not selling actual 
art" they are selling prints make with an inkjet printer to which they have given the fancy French-sounding "Giclee Process" (zhee-clay) as id this has anything at all to do with the artist. Basically, they are posters where thr artist simply gives his permission to have a painting reproduced and the printer does the rest. This is nothing like the old concept of print-making with wood or copper cuts as was done originally where the results were controlled, managed and signed by artist.
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Old January 21st, 2007, 07:56 PM
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I think Paul's got it right. What it boils down to is that these art hustlers have a really good thing going: they have a "captured" audience in an environment where comparison shopping and meaninful research is impossible, where impulse buying is likely, and where they can exert "now or never" sales pressure. It's a natural crucible for abuse.

Even so, you can occasionally find a bargain if you happen to be familiar with prices of a particular kind of art, and if you see something you really like. That happened to me exactly once. I collect WB animation cels and I pretty much know what they're worth. They had a pretty obscure one that I really wanted, and they were selling it for half what I knew it was worth, so I grabbed it. But that was a fluke.

The other point is, if you see something that you really want to put on your wall, if it's less than $250 or so, and if you can afford it, you should probably just buy it. At those prices research doesn't mean much, and the pleasure you will get from it will probably mean more than whether or not you are paying $50 too much.

But I also think that the guy Paul quoted is right: you should look at land-based galleries to find the unusual, local, one-of-a-kind, really smashing stuff that might float your boat a lot better than the predictable "poster shows" aboard ship.

And giclee prints present a real moral dilemma in the art world. If an artist gets, say, 200 canvas giclees made of one of his works, then "touches up" each print with a few brush strokes and adds a signature, is he on strong moral ground selling each one as an "original?"

I mean, I love giclees. But so far I've stuck with the ones I've had made from my own photographs. I KNOW they're mine!
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