Park West Gallery
|Headquarters||Southfield, Michigan, U.S.|
Park West Gallery is a commercial art gallery founded in 1969 by Albert Scaglione and based in Southfield, Michigan, USA, where it occupies 63,000-square-foot (5,900 m2) premises, which is open for public and educational visits. It employs 1,000 staff globally and states its annual revenue as $300–$400 million. It exhibits historic artists such as Renoir as well as contemporary artists. It funds the philanthropic Park West Foundation.
In 1993, it began to stage art auctions on cruise liners, and is now the largest promoter of these events, which provide half of its stated $300–$400 million revenue from 300,000 artworks sold annually.
In 1969, Albert Scaglione opened Park West Gallery in Southfield, Michigan, after being a Wayne State University teacher of mechanical engineering. He bought Escher prints for $50 and was able to retail them for many times that price.
Park West Gallery has 63,000-square-foot (5,900 m2) premises on the Northwestern Highway, employing 200 staff in Oakland County, Michigan and over 1,000 worldwide. It has 181,000-square-foot (16,800 m2) offices in South Florida. Works ranges from $2,000 to a $1 million Renoir; as well as historic artists, it also represents contemporary artists, such as Southfield resident Marcus Glenn and Israeli sculptor, Yaacov Agam, who makes optical and kinetic art. The gallery is open to the public and provides a service for educational visits.
In addition to its main gallery and art conservation facility in Southfield, Michigan, Park West operates a framing and distribution center in Miami Lakes, Florida, and maintains a catalog and Internet sales business. The company also funds the not-for-profit Park West Foundation, which provides philanthropic support to various groups.
Since 1993, Park West Gallery has been conducting fine art auctions aboard cruise ships, and is the largest business in this field, selling nearly 300,000 artworks a year with a revenue in excess of $300 million, on the Holland America, Oceania, Celebrity, Norwegian, Carnival and Regent lines, and formerly on Royal Caribbean line. Park West states that it is "the world's largest art dealer" based on its volume of sales. The auctions, like shows, gambling and shopping, are a popular aspect of entertainment during the cruise, and provide concessionary income for the cruise operator.
Morris Shapiro is the gallery director and has been part of the company for 25 years. He said the gallery has created a "new paradigm in how art is presented to the public".
Park West Gallery does not reveal financial reports, as it is privately owned. Scaglione stated the 2007 revenue was $300–$400 million. Half of its revenue comes from 85 auctioneers on cruise-ships, and the rest of the revenue is from promotions in hotels and sales in its gallery.
Cruise auction disputes
In 2008, complaints were reported by The New York Times and other media about the conduct of auctions, and a class action lawsuit has been filed concerning the valuation of items sold. The company has dismissed these complaints as unfounded. In July 2008, The New York Times published an article citing complaints by six individuals, concerning sales tactics, certification and valuation of work, and money-back promises. One buyer said he later discovered that a Picasso print which he had been advised by Park West was a "good investment" at $35,000 (he won it for $24,265) had been sold at Sotheby's two years previously for $6,150. USA Today and other media carried similar reports. Some refunds have been made to customers with a confidentiality clause. Scaglione said the gallery had spent "hundred of thousands of dollars" on establishing valuations through independent consultants. Most of all claims against the gallery had been settled or dismissed.
In April 2008, a Florida and a California resident filed class action lawsuits, accusing Park West of misrepresenting the value of artwork. Scaglione said, "We’ve got over a million clients and we make an effort to satisfy every one of them. Sometimes you have disingenuous people who buy things for not good reasons, and we get set up." In September 2008, the gallery instituted a policy where any item bought from them could be returned for a refund (less the buyer's premium) or exchanged for another artwork within specified timeframes.
- Scott, Mike. "Gallery's cruise ship strategy makes splash with art sales", Oakland Business Review, 22 May 2008. Retrieved 13 August 2008.
- "The Park West Foundation". Philanthropy. parkwestgallery.com. Retrieved 2008-08-04.
- Finkel, Jori (2008-07-16). "Art Auctions on Cruise Ships Lead to Anger, Accusations and Lawsuits". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-16.
- "Albert Scaglione". Tour Park West. parkwestgallery.com. Retrieved 2008-08-04.
- *Cramer, Kelly (2006-11-09). "The Art of Piracy: On the high seas, it may be best to resist the urge to buy a masterpiece.". New Times Broward-Palm Beach. Retrieved 2008-07-17.
- "Cruise Art Auctions: Great Bargain or Lousy Deal?". Inside Edition (CBS News). 2008-02-11. Retrieved 2008-07-17.
- Wagner, Dennis (2008-04-09). "Gullible travels: art sales at sea". The Arizona Republic. Retrieved 2008-07-16.
- *Yancey, Kitty Bean (2001-02-09). "Cruise lines draw profits from selling works of art". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-07-17.
- Scaglione, Albert (2008-08-10). "Auctions in the Art World". letter to the editor responding to the paper's allegations (The New York Times). Retrieved 2008-08-12.
The article also did not point out what is widely known in the art world: market values cannot be based on what happens in a single auction sale on one specific day. This of course is especially true if only a limited number of bidders participated and a limited number of individuals were aware that the auction sale was being conducted.
- Aguilar, Julio (2008-08-10). "Defraudan a turistas con venta de ‘arte’" (in Spanish). El Universal. Retrieved 2008-08-12.