Banksy’s latest painting of a young boy playing with a nurse doll as a superhero has fetched more than £16 million for NHS charities.
The notorious street artist, generally based in the UK but their nationality remains unconfirmed nor have they been identified – although there are theories – is no stranger to commenting on societal issues and current affairs in their work, whether it’s the ‘fallen angel’ or ‘kissing coppers’.
In May last year, Banksy delivered ‘Game Changer’ to Southampton General Hospital as a thank you to frontline healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, it’s sold for a record £16.8 million, with the proceeds going to different health charities.
A reproduction of the painting remains at the hospital, showing a young boy playing with a nurse doll instead of Batman and Spider-Man, but the original square metre canvas was sold following a lengthy bidding war at Christie’s headquarters in London. Despite the high sum it eventually reached, initial estimates were only in the region of £2.5–3.5 million.
While the hammer price was £14.4 million, the buyer’s premium ratcheted up the total cost to £16.8 million, ‘a significant portion’ of which – at least £16 million – will go towards organisations and charities that work with the NHS, the auction house said, as per BBC News.
Prior to the auction, Christie’s described the painting as a ‘an image of hope and a ‘personal tribute to those who continue to turn the tide of the pandemic’.
When Banksy delivered the artwork, he left 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.’
As per The Guardian, David French, interim chief executive officer of University Hospital Southampton Trust, said: ‘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.’
He added: ‘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.’
A spokeswoman for Christie’s also 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.’
She added: ‘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.’
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Topics: News, Art, Banksy, Coronavirus, NHS, UK