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Banksy painting Game Changer to be auctioned for NHS charities

Mark Brown Arts correspondent
·2-min read
Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA
Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA

A Banksy painting of a young boy ditching his Batman and Spider-Man action figures for one of a caped superhero nurse could raise more than £3m for the NHS.

Christie’s has announced it is selling the artwork on behalf of the artist, with the proceeds going to NHS charities.

The painting, titled Game Changer, was delivered to Southampton general hospital last May, during the first wave of the pandemic, with a note: “Thanks for all you’re doing. I hope this brightens the place up a bit, even if its only black and white.”

It has hung in a corridor near the emergency department and was, hospital managers said, a huge boost to morale.

Now the original will be sold while a reproduction will hang at the hospital.

Watch: Artwork on former prison confirmed as Banksy

Katharine Arnold, a contemporary art specialist at Christie’s, said Game Changer was a universal tribute to everyone, everywhere, fighting the crisis on the frontline.

She said: “At a time when we can dare to hope once more, and look at life beyond the pandemic, it is important to reflect on the many symbols of strength and hope we have seen internationally since the beginning of 2020.

“Banksy’s Game Changer was a beacon of light for the staff and patients at Southampton general hospital and it was the artist’s wish to then auction it with proceeds benefiting the NHS.

“The work pays tribute to the strength and resilience of those who have demonstrated true leadership throughout the pandemic, the staff of our vital NHS.”

Game Changer will be seen outside the hospital for the first time, hanging in a window at Christie’s headquarters in London from 8-15 March. It will be sold at the auction house’s marquee art evening sale on 23 March with an estimate of £2.5m-£3.5m.

Its sale is following a pattern with Banksy selling a triptych at Sotheby’s last summer to raise money for a hospital in Bethlehem. Mediterranean Sea View 2017 was three traditionally framed romantic-era seascapes on to which Banksy had added washed-up lifebuoys and lifejackets, making a statement on the global migrant crisis. It sold for £2.2m.

The record for a Banksy painting at auction was set by an enormous work titled Devolved Parliament, showing chimpanzees as MPs in the House of Commons chamber. It sold for £9.9m in 2019. Banksy reacted on Instagram that it was a “shame I didn’t still own it”.

The anonymous artist continues to be active on the street, last week channeling Bob Ross in a video on his Instagram page showing him paint an escaping prisoner on the side of Reading jail.

Watch: Here's Why This Group Burnt A Banksy