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Artwork auctioned to the highest emotional bidder

Artworks valued at €25,000 have been auctioned off with an unusual currency -- the winning bids were the biggest emotional responses to the work.

Kosta Boda

People have different reasons for buying art. Some because they're collectors; some for investment purposes; and some because an artwork evokes an emotional response (though these are not necessarily mutually exclusive). One design company wanted to make sure that its artworks were going to the latter: people with whom the artworks resonated.

Kosta Boda in Sweden recently auctioned off three art glass pieces, but no money was exchanged between the winners and the company; instead, the pieces were won by those bidders who had the highest emotional response to them.

Emotions, however, can be difficult to gauge purely by observation. Instead, the gallery set up a curtained room, with the pieces hidden under cloth, and a seat for the bidders. Here, they were hooked up to a heart rate monitor on one hand and galvanic skin response sensor, which measures electrical conductance of the skin based on the amount of sweat produced, on the other. The 303 bidders knew nothing about the pieces, other than their collective value of €25,000.

First, Kosta Boda recorded an emotional baseline for each bidder, then unveiled the artworks.

Protocol by Bertil Vallien, valued at €15,000, was won by Liv Eklund Swartz; Super Protection by Asa Jungnelius, worth €1900, was won by David Dolfe; and Guitar by Kjell Engman, worth €8500, was won by Shelley Mulshine.

"I can't believe it. It feels amazing," Eklund Swartz said. "I think the piece I won was the most stunning. It's so dreamy!"

This particular auction was set up in order to draw attention to the art glass produced in Kosta, and to introduce it to people who would not usually be able to afford to buy art. You can read more on the official auction website.