Banksy painting depicting nurses as superheroes raises $23 million for UK health charities

A street artist Banksy painting in honor of health workers amid the pandemic sold Tuesday for a record £ 16.8 million ($ 23.2 million), with a “significant” portion of the proceeds going to fund various charities used throughout the UK

The auction house Christie’s announced the sale by the anonymous artist “Game Changer”. The painting originally appeared on a wall at University Hospital Southampton during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in May 2020.

The hand-painted canvas shows a boy sitting on the floor playing with a superhero toy in an international Red Cross uniform, while Batman and Spiderman toy figures are thrown away in the trash.

When first revealed, the picture was accompanied by a note that read, “Thank you for everything you do. I hope this brightens the place up a bit, even if it’s just black and white. “

“Game Changer emerged at a time when countries around the world were applauding their frontline workers and painting rainbows in support during the first global lockdown. It spoke directly to the international zeitgeist,” Christie’s said in a statement.

The original gift should always be sold, but a reproduction will still be visible to future patients, visitors, and hospital staff.

A “significant portion” of the proceeds from sales will be used to support health organizations and charities across the UK, according to the auction house, as they improve care and treatment through the country’s National Health Service.

David French, interim chief executive officer at University Hospital Southampton, said the gift will be “invaluable” when it comes to an emphasis on employee welfare as “they are healing and recovering from last year “.

“As a charitable gift, it ensures our employees have a say in how money is spent on them, our patients and our community, and is a fantastic way to thank and reward them for the sacrifices they have made,” said French .

The sale coincides with Britain’s National Day of Reflection and marks the first anniversary of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s order to prevent a nationwide lockdown on the coronavirus.

The England-based artist, who has over 10.8 million Instagram followers, has never revealed his identity.

According to the auction house, the massive sale is a world record for Banksy’s auction.

“Banksy is an exceptional artist who is a constant barometer of national sentiment,” Katharine Arnold, head of Christie’s European post-war and contemporary art division, said in a statement. “With the perfect picture of a little boy playing with his superhero doll, a nurse with the international Red Cross, he perfectly captured the essence of this moment.”

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