Banksy artwork raises £16mil for charity in record auction for artist

Banksy artwork which appeared in hospital corridor in tribute to NHS medics on Covid frontline raises £16million for charity in record auction for artist

  • Game Changer appeared at Southampton Hospital last year as thank you to staff
  • Banksy has auctioned original canvas, with reproduction remaining in hospital
  • Painting fetched £16.7mil, which is said to be a world auction record for the artist
  • Proceeds from its sale will be used to support health organisations and charities

Banksy has raised more than £16million for health projects with the auction of a painting which appeared in a hospital corridor in tribute to NHS medics.

Game Changer emerged at Southampton Hospital in May last year as a thank you to staff during the first wave of the Covid pandemic.

The anonymous graffiti artist has now auctioned the original canvas with a reproduction of the work remaining in the hospital.

The painting fetched £16.7million, which is a world auction record for the artist, according to Christie’s.

Game Changer, pictured above, emerged at Southampton Hospital in May last year as a thank you to staff during the first wave of the Covid pandemic

A handout picture from Southampton Hospital shows a member of staff posing with the painting. The anonymous graffiti artist has now auctioned the original canvas

Proceeds from its sale will be used to support health organisations and charities which enhance the care and treatment provided by the NHS, the auction house said.

The hand-painted image shows a young boy playing with superhero dolls.

While Batman and Spiderman are discarded in a bin, the child clutches a figure of a masked nurse wearing a cape.

Christie’s said that the image ‘offers an image of hope’ and represents a ‘personal tribute to those who continue to turn the tide of the pandemic’.

Katharine Arnold, co-head, post-war and contemporary art, Europe, at the auction house, said: ‘Banksy is an extraordinary artist who is a constant barometer of nationwide sentiment.

‘With the perfect image of a little boy playing with his superhero doll, a nurse sporting the international Red Cross, he perfectly captured the essence of this moment in time.

A member of staff at the hospital seen having their photograph taken in front of the artwork painted by Banksy during the first coronavirus lockdown

A member of staff seen taking a photograph of the artwork. Christie’s said that the image represents a ‘personal tribute to those who continue to turn the tide of the pandemic’

‘As we have turned our focus towards our families and those we love, we express our gratitude to the people who continue to fight on the frontline against Covid-19.’

When first unveiled at Southampton Hospital, the picture was accompanied by a note which read: ‘Thanks for all you’re doing.

‘I hope this brightens the place up a bit, even if it’s only black and white.’

The painting, originally gifted to the hospital, was always intended to be sold and a reproduction of the piece remains at the building.

The reproduction will remain on view for future patients, visitors and staff at the hospital to enjoy. 

David French, Interim CEO at University Hospital Southampton, added: ‘This incredible gift will be invaluable in helping us to focus on promoting and protecting the welfare of our staff as they heal and recover from the last year. 

Banksy’s previous records include his ‘Devolved Parliament’ (pictured above), in which chimpanzees replace politicians in the House of Commons, fetching £9.9million in 2019

The third-highest price ever paid for a work by Banksy was £7.6million for ‘Show Me The Monet’ (pictured above) – the artist’s playful take on a famous Impressionist painting

‘As a charitable gift it ensures our staff have a say in how money is spent to benefit them, our patients and our community and is a fantastic way to thank and reward them for the sacrifices they’ve made.’

Banksy’s previous records include his ‘Devolved Parliament’, in which chimpanzees replace politicians in the House of Commons, fetching £9.9million in 2019.

The third-highest price ever paid for a work by Banksy was £7.6million for the artist’s playful take on a famous Impressionist painting.

The piece titled ‘Show Me The Monet’ sold for £7.6million to an anonymous bidder at Sotheby’s in London in October 2020.

Banksy began his career spray-painting buildings in Bristol and has become one of the world’s best-known artists.   

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