Banksy’s Game Changer sells for £16.7m on anniversary of first UK lockdown

Melanie May | 24 March 2021 | News

Banksy’s Game Changer sold at auction for £16,758,000 yesterday, on the National Day of Reflection marking the first anniversary of the first UK lockdown.

The artwork sold at Christie’s for £14.4m, rising to the final total with fees: a new worldwide auction record for the artist. The proceeds from its sale of the artwork are going to NHS-related health organisations and charities across the UK. Christie’s has said it will also donate a significant portion of the Buyer’s Premium to these causes.

Game Changer, which is hand-painted, shows a young boy playing with a selection of superhero dolls. In the painting, Batman and Spiderman lie discarded in a bin while the child clutches a masked nurse dressed in the international uniform of the Red Cross. When first unveiled, the picture was accompanied by a note: ‘Thanks for all you’re doing. I hope this brightens the place up a bit, even if it’s only black and white.’

 

 

It first appeared on 6 May 2020, during the first wave of the global Covid-19 pandemic, in University Hospital Southampton, with the intention always being to sell it. Through Southampton Hospitals Charity, proceeds from the sale will be used to fund wellbeing projects for staff and patients, and distributed to a wider community of healthcare providers both within the NHS and charitable sectors. A reproduction will remain on view for future patients, visitors and staff at the hospital.

Katharine Arnold, Co-Head, Post-War and Contemporary Art, Europe, Christie’s said:

“It has been a great privilege to work on the sale of Game Changer. On a day of national reflection, marking one year since the first lockdown in Britain and with so many lives lost around the world, it feels very meaningful to have raised £16,758,000. 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.”

David French, Interim Chief Executive Officer at University Hospital Southampton added:

“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.  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.

“The Trust is part of a much wider community of healthcare providers both within the NHS and charitable sectors and it’s required a collective effort to manage and support the most vulnerable and unwell within our community over the last year.  The lessons we’ve learnt throughout the pandemic will no doubt see a fundamental shift to more collaborative ways of working into the future and we’re delighted that proceeds from the auction of Game Changer will also go to benefit the work of our wider partners and help us all to deliver a more integrated and improved care system for patients.”

 

Main image: Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels

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