A painting by the artist Banksy honoring UK healthcare workers has set a new record for the artist, selling for £16.7 million ($23.1 million) at Christie’s in London.
“Game Changer,” which the enigmatic street artist donated to the University Hospital Southampton (UHS) in May of 2020 during the first wave of the pandemic, depicts a young child playing with a toy Red Cross nurse wearing a cape and face mask. In a nearby basket, figurines of Batman and Spiderman lay forgotten.
The work sold for over four times its high estimate of £3.5 million ($4.8 million) and nearly doubled Banksy’s previous record, the 2009 oil-on-canvas “Devolved Parliament” of British politicians as chimpanzees in the House of Commons, which sold for £9.9 million ($13.6 million) at Sotheby’s in 2019.
The proceeds from the hammer price will be donated to University Hospital Southampton as well health organizations and charities across the country, according to the auction house.
Until now, “Game Changer” had only been seen on display at the hospital (a reproduction will now replace it). When Banksy donated the work, he included a note that read: “Thanks for all you’re doing. I hope this brightens the place up a bit, even if its only black and white.”
At the time, UHS chief executive Paula Head called it “an inspirational backdrop to pause and reflect in these unprecedented times,” in a tweet.