A Banksy painting honoring Britain’s healthcare workers in the pandemic sold for a record 16.8 million pounds ($ 23.2 million), auction house Christie’s said Tuesday. Proceeds from the sale will be used to fund healthcare organizations and charities across the UK, he said.
The work of the mysterious street artist, entitled Game changer, first appeared on a wall at Southampton General Hospital in southern England in May, during the first wave of the pandemic. The black and white image shows a boy sitting on the floor playing with a superhero nurse toy, while Batman and Spiderman figures lie in a trash can next to him.
The moment he went upstairs, the hospital said Banksy left a note for the workers that said, “Thank you for all that you are doing. Hope this brightens the place up a bit, even if it’s just black and white. “
Christie’s said the sale price was a world auction record for Banksy. The auction house said it will donate a “significant portion” of the buyer’s premium to healthcare organizations.
A reproduction of the image will remain at the hospital for patients, visitors and staff, Christie’s added.
“Banksy is an extraordinary artist who is a constant barometer of national sentiment,” said Katharine Arnold, who heads the European division of contemporary and postwar art at the auction house. “With the perfect image of a child playing with his superhero doll, a nurse with the International Red Cross perfectly captured the essence of this moment in time.”
The sale came on the day that Britain observed a minute of silence to mark a year since Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered the first national shutdown.