“Game Changer”, a three-square-foot (one-square-meter) black and white painting of a boy playing with a toy nurse as a superhero by artist Banksy, sold at Christie’s auction house in London for a record £ 16.7 million (€ 19.5 million / $ 23.2 million) on Tuesday, the highest amount ever paid for a work by the anonymous artist.
The painting of a boy lifting a hooded and masked nurse high, Batman and Spiderman relegated to the trash behind him, was donated to Southhampton University Hospital by the artist last May, in appreciation of the service of the first-class workers. UK National Health Service (NHS) hotline in the fight against coronavirus.
The job is said to have come with a letter saying, “Thank you for all that you’re doing. I hope this brightens up the place a bit, even if it’s just black and white.”
Proceeds will promote the well-being of NHS workers
Christie’s says Southhampton Hospitals Charity will use the proceeds from the sale to “fund wellness projects for staff and patients” and to “distribute them to a broader community of healthcare providers both on the NHS and in charities.”
“This incredible gift will be invaluable in helping us focus on promoting and protecting the well-being of our staff as they recover and recover from the past year,” said David French, Acting Executive Director of Southampton University Hospital.
Banksy, ‘a constant barometer of national sentiment’
Speaking of the artist and the painting, which had an estimated asking price of € 4 million and dropped to € 16.7 million, Christie’s Katharine Arnold called Banksy, “an extraordinary artist who is a constant barometer of national sentiment. “.
“With the perfect image of a child playing with his superhero doll, a nurse with the International Red Cross, perfectly captured the essence of this moment in time,” said the European expert on contemporary art.
A reproduction of the work will replace the original in the hospital for the enjoyment of patients, visitors and workers.
Britain’s NHS chronically underfunded
The funding the paint will provide is badly needed across the UK healthcare landscape. The NHS in particular is a chronically underfunded behemoth that can never meet the demands placed on it by an aging population despite annual budget increases.
That tension means that early disease detection tests may not be performed and waiting times in hospitals and doctors’ offices are exacerbated by a shortage of healthcare workers who, in turn, have been adversely affected by the Brexit.
A 2018 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) study comparing 21 countries found that the UK had one of the lowest per capita numbers of doctors, nurses and hospital beds in the Western world, with only Poland with fewer doctors and nurses, and only three – Canada, Denmark and Sweden – have fewer beds.
The OECD also found that the UK had halved the number of hospital beds in the country, to 100,000, in the last 30 years.
The sale broadcast live at Christie’s took place on the first anniversary of the first closing order issued by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. To date, more than 126,000 UK citizens have died from the coronavirus.
js / aw (AP, dpa, Reuters)