How Participants at This Art Auction Will Bid With Their Senses, Not Money

Going once, going twice, sold to the bidder with the sweaty skin!

A unique art auction this week is out to prove that you can get anything if you want it badly enough. (And money is no obstacle.)

Bombay Sapphire is holding the first-ever "Sensory Auction" on Tuesday, Oct. 19 which will auction away a sculpture by artist Dan Lam — not to the person with the highest bid but the person with "the most impassioned" response.

"The goal with the Sensory Auction is to help in the efforts to democratize the art world, making it a more inclusive space," Lam said in a statement shared with Travel + Leisure.

Dan Lam sculpture
Courtesy of Bombay Sapphire

Bidders at the auction will be outfitted with "state-of-the-art neuroaesthetic technology" that will measure their subconscious sensory reactions to Lam's sculpture, the company shared with T+L. The technology will measure each bidder's brain activity when they set eyes upon the piece, their skin response (down to sweat drops their body produces), and their focus and engagement through eye-tracking technology. After the auction, scientists will analyze the data and the piece will go to the person who exhibited the strongest, most genuine response.

Lam's sculpture was inspired by the process of making Bombay. The materials reflect the ingredients in a Bombay & Tonic and are meant to reflect the different layers of the drink.

The work itself is valued at about $10,000 — but, of course, you can't put a price on a full-body response to a work of art.

"If you take a moment to reflect on each detail on the sculpture, what may seem simple at first becomes much more complex, quite like the experience of drinking a Bombay & Tonic," Lam said.

Those who are interested in "bidding" for the art can register online before the auction at Lume Studios in New York City.

The auction is being run through Bombay Sapphire's Artisan Series, which has also partnered with artists like Tracey Emin, Thomas Heatherwick, and Tom Dixon.

Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or at

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles