Banksy painting honoring health care workers sells for $23 million

FILE – In this file photo taken on May 7, 2020, an employee is photographed in front of the artwork entitled ‘Game Changer’ painted by Banksy during the lockdown at Southampton General Hospital in Southampton, England. A Banksy painting in honor of UK health workers in the coronavirus pandemic sold for a record £ 23.8 million ($ 23.2 million). Christie’s auction house on Tuesday March 23, 2021 announced that the proceeds from the sale will be used to fund health and charities around the UK (Andrew Matthews / PA via AP, file)

LONDON (AP) – A Banksy painting in honor of UK health workers in the pandemic sold for a record £ 23.8 million ($ 23.2 million), auction house Christie’s said Tuesday. The proceeds from the sale will be used to fund health and charities across the UK.

The mysterious street artist’s work, titled Game Changer, first appeared on a wall at Southampton General Hospital in the south of 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 nurse’s superhero toy, while Batman and Spiderman toy figures lie in a trash next to him.

When it went off, the hospital said Banksy left a note there for the workers: “Thank you for everything you do. I hope this brightens the place up a bit, even if it’s just black and white. “

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Christie’s said the selling price was a world record for Banksy’s auction. The auction house said it will donate a “significant portion” of the buyer’s premium to health organizations.

A reproduction of the image will remain in the hospital for patients, visitors and staff, Christie’s added.

“Banksy is an extraordinary artist who is a constant barometer of the national mood,” said Katharine Arnold, who heads the auction house’s European division for post-war and contemporary art. “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.”

The sale came on the day Britain observed a minute’s silence to mark a year since Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered the first national lockdown.

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