Banksy’s ‘Game Changer’ painting sells for a record-breaking $23M

Written by Jacqui Palumbo, CNN

A painting by artist Banksy in honor of UK healthcare workers set a new record for the artist and sold for £ 16.7 million ($ 23.1 million) at Christie’s in London.

Game Changer, donated by the enigmatic street performer to University Hospital Southampton (UHS) in May 2020 during the first wave of the pandemic, shows a young child playing with a toy Red Cross nurse wearing a cape and face mask . Figures of Batman and Spiderman were forgotten in a nearby basket.

The work sold more than four times its high estimate of £ 3.5 million ($ 4.8 million) and nearly doubled the previous record for Banksy, the Devolved Parliament oil-on-canvas project of British politicians from 2009 as a chimpanzee in the House of Commons, for which it sold £ 9.9m ($ 13.6m) at Sotheby’s in 2019.

Proceeds from the hammer price will be donated to University Hospital Southampton and to health organizations and charities across the country, according to the auction house.'Game Changer' by Banksy

‘Game Changer’ by Banksy Recognition: From Christie

So far, “Game Changer” has only been seen in the hospital (a reproduction will now replace it). When Banksy donated the work, he added a note that read, “Thanks for everything you do. I hope this brightens the place up a bit, even if it’s just black and white.”

At the time, UHS executive Paula Head called it “an inspiring backdrop to pause and reflect in these unprecedented times” in a tweet.

Christie’s described the work as engaging “The simple, universal values ​​that have come to the fore during the pandemic – family, home, and time with loved ones.” The painting is a heartfelt moment for an artist who often shows off its sardonic appeal. In 2018, Banksy made headlines when his iconic Girl With Balloon self-destructed shortly after it sold for $ 1.4 million at Sotheby’s (the composition of spray paint on canvas half-crushed in its frame ) then renamed to “love is in the bin”).

“Game Changer” wasn’t Banksy’s only pandemic. Three months after the donation, Banksy left stenciled rats with face masks on the London Underground, which were immediately removed for violating Transport for London’s “strict anti-graffiti policy”. Then, in December, he left a mural of a woman sneezing violently on the side of a house in Totterdown. While Banksy has not yet revealed his identity, much of his early work in and around Bristol, including the playful work “Aachoo !!”, has led to speculation that he is from the area.

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