A Banksy painting depicting a young boy playing with a superhero nurse doll has raised more than £16m for an NHS charity after being sold at auction. Christie's said the hammer price of £14.4m for the 1m (3ft) x 1m work was a "world auction record" for a Banksy. Including a buyer's premium, the purchaser paid £16.8m. Christie's said it would be donating "a significant portion" of its premium, meaning a total of "more than £16m" would go to Southampton Hospitals Charity.
The work by the mysterious street artist, titled “Game Changer,” first appeared on a wall at Southampton General Hospital in southern England in May, during the first wave of the pandemic. The artwork depicts a young boy sitting on the floor playing with a nurse superhero toy, as Batman and Spiderman toy figures lay in a bin next to him.
Banksy art was delivered to the hospital with a note, which said: “Thanks for all you’re doing. I hope this brightens the place up a bit, even if it’s only black and white.”
It was hung near the emergency department and that it had helped boost morale said staff of that hospital. A reproduction of the canvas will remain on display at the hospital.
Auctioneer Jussi Pylkkanen said Banksy's pledge to donate the proceeds to the NHS was "an incredible gesture" and described the sale as a "historic moment".
A pre-sale estimate of £2.5m to £3.5m had been placed on the work.
Prior to the auction, Christie's said the artwork offered "an image of hope" and represented a "personal tribute to those who continue to turn the tide of the pandemic".
Banksy had previously said the £9.9m received for his piece Devolved Parliament, showing the House of Commons overrun with chimpanzees was the highest ever paid for one of his paintings.