Painting Honoring Britain’s Health Care Sells For $20 Million

Top line

A painting by Banksy, the world’s most famous street artist, broke the artist’s record for the most expensive works sold at auction on Tuesday when a painting dedicated to the UK’s National Health Service sold for $ 20 million became the NHS and health organizations.

An employee has his picture taken in front of Banksy’s Game Changer in Southampton … [+] General Hospital.

PA Images via Getty Images

Key factors

Game Changer shows a boy in overalls playing with a nurse doll wearing a face mask and Red Cross uniform, while dolls of the superhero characters Batman and Spiderman lie to one side in a trash can.

The $ 20 million price tag is more than six times higher than Christie’s estimates, beating Banksy’s most expensive piece of Devolved Parliament to date, which sold for $ 12 million in 2019.

Game Changer was donated to University Hospital Southampton by the Graffitti Kingpin in May as Britain battled its first wave of coronavirus to pay tribute to the NHS nurses and doctors on the front lines of the pandemic.

When it was first revealed in the hospital, according to the auction house, it contained a note from the artist: “Thank you for everything you do. I hope this brightens the place up a bit, even if it’s just black and white. “

The painting was auctioned off by the hospital with Banksy’s blessing, Christie’s auction house said, and a reproduction will continue to be on view for patients and staff alike.

Crucial quote

“The work pays tribute to the strength and resilience of those who have shown real leadership throughout the pandemic, the staff of our vital NHS, the true heroes of the nation,” said Katherine Arnold, co-head of Co-Head, European Post-war and contemporary art at Christie’s in a statement.

Key background

A number of pieces by Banksy of Bristol, UK, took inspiration from the coronavirus pandemic over the past year. In April, the mysterious street artist posted photos on his Instagram account that showed a swarm of his trademarked rats allegedly tearing apart the artist’s bathroom. “My wife hates it when I work from home,” the headline reads, a nod to the lockdown in the UK. Banksy struck again in July when the artist sprayed a pandemic-inspired piece on a London Underground car with rats with face masks and bottles of hand sanitizer playing on it.

further reading

Banksy’s latest coronavirus-inspired work removed from the London tube by cleaners (Forbes)

Under Lockdown, Banksy proposes a new target: his own bathroom (Forbes)

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