Banksy donates £3m artwork to raise funds for the NHS

Banksy is hoping to raise more than £3 million for the NHS with the auction of a painting offering an ‘image of hope’.

Game Changer appeared at Southampton Hospital during the first wave of the pandemic.

Now the anonymous graffiti artist is auctioning the original canvas to raise funds for the NHS, with the reproduction of the work remaining in the hospital.

The Banksy work Game Changer appeared in May during the first lockdown at Southampton General Hospital featuring a young boy playing with a super hero nurse, leaving traditional superheros in a basket

The Banksy work Game Changer appeared in May during the first lockdown at Southampton General Hospital featuring a young boy playing with a super hero nurse, leaving traditional superheros in a basket

The Banksy work Game Changer appeared in May during the first lockdown at Southampton General Hospital featuring a young boy playing with a super hero nurse, leaving traditional superheros in a basket

The hand-painted image shows a young boy playing with superhero dolls.

While Batman and Spiderman are discarded in a bin, the child clutches a figure of a masked nurse wearing a cape.

Christie’s said that the image ‘offers an image of hope’ and represents a ‘personal tribute to those who continue to turn the tide of the pandemic’.

Katharine Arnold, co-head, post-war and contemporary art, Europe, at Christie’s, said: ‘Game Changer is a universal tribute to all those fighting worldwide on the front line of this crisis.

‘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 Game Changer artwork, pictured, has a pre-sale estimate with Christie's of between £2,500,000 and £3,500,000 when it goes under the hammer on March 23

The Game Changer artwork, pictured, has a pre-sale estimate with Christie's of between £2,500,000 and £3,500,000 when it goes under the hammer on March 23

The Game Changer artwork, pictured, has a pre-sale estimate with Christie’s of between £2,500,000 and £3,500,000 when it goes under the hammer on March 23

‘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.’

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.’

Game Changer will be seen outside the hospital for the first time, from the window at Christie’s headquarters in London, from March 8 to 15.

Game Changer will be offered at auction in Christie’s 20th Century Art Evening Sale on March 23, with a pre-sale estimate of £2.5 to £3.5 million.

The guerrilla artist previously claimed responsibility for a mural which appeared on the walls of a Victorian jail where Oscar Wilde was famously held.

The elusive street artist confirmed responsibility for the artwork by posting a parody instruction video on his Instagram account told in the style of the American TV show The Joy of Painting hosted by painter Bob Ross. 

The painting, which depicts a prisoner attempting to escape over the wall with a typewriter in his hand, was etched onto the side of HMP Reading.

The prison is renowned as the location where Irish poet Oscar Wilde was incarcerated from 1895-1897 for committing ‘gross indecency’ and went on to inspire his final published work ‘The Ballad of Reading Gaol’.

Banksy’s stunts, from shredding his own masterpiece to setting up a museum exhibition without curators knowing

Tube paint job  

Last year, the renowned street artist boarded a Hammersmith and City Line train dressed in a high-vis jacket, boiler suit, goggles and face mask on July 10, spray painting rats in pandemic-inspired poses inside the carriage and on a platform’s wall.

It was removed by clueless Transport for London cleaning crews, who were unaware of its origins despite the Bristol-based artist sharing a video of the artwork on his Instagram page.

The RMT union raised security concerns three months after the stunt, while TfL has revealed it would not publish the findings of an investigation into how Banksy was able to pull it off. 

Banksy's artwork on the London Underground was valued at around £7.5million - but clueless cleaners removed it from the Hammersmith and City Line train before it could be preserved

Banksy's artwork on the London Underground was valued at around £7.5million - but clueless cleaners removed it from the Hammersmith and City Line train before it could be preserved

Banksy’s artwork on the London Underground was valued at around £7.5million – but clueless cleaners removed it from the Hammersmith and City Line train before it could be preserved

Shredding his masterpiece  

In 2018, Banksy’s iconic painting Girl With Balloon dramatically self-destructed moments after the gavel fell for more than a million at a Sotheby’s auction. 

The audience watched on dumbstruck as the £1,042,000 painting was destroyed by a hidden shredder. 

Banksy later revealed how he created the shredder in a video posted on Instagram. 

The man who is believed to be the person who shot the video that Banksy uploaded bears a strong resemblance to Robin Gunningham who has previously been named as the elusive artist.  

A member of auction staff  can be seen on the phone to the successful buyer after the painting self-destructed

A member of auction staff  can be seen on the phone to the successful buyer after the painting self-destructed

A member of auction staff  can be seen on the phone to the successful buyer after the painting self-destructed

Robin Gunningham was named as street artist Banksy, which he claimed was untrue

Robin Gunningham was named as street artist Banksy, which he claimed was untrue

Robin Gunningham was named as street artist Banksy, which he claimed was untrue

Setting up his own museum exhibition  

In 2009, Banksy stunned Bristolians by setting up his largest ever museum exhibition in complete secrecy. 

The covert graffiti artist snuck into Bristol’s City Museum and Art Gallery and replaced many of the artefacts on display there with 100 pieces of his own work, including a burnt-out ice-cream van.

The spray-painted van, which sits under a giant melted cone, appears alongside dozens of sculptures, oil paintings and his trademark stencils

In 2009, Banksy snuck into Bristol's City Museum to set up his own exhibition

In 2009, Banksy snuck into Bristol's City Museum to set up his own exhibition

In 2009, Banksy snuck into Bristol’s City Museum to set up his own exhibition 

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Banksy was busy during lockdown: The ‘Aachoo!’ mural is not the artist’s first piece with a subtle nod to coronavirus to appear this year

Banksy took to Instagram to share a series of images which showed his bathroom covered in his infamous rat sketches

Banksy took to Instagram to share a series of images which showed his bathroom covered in his infamous rat sketches

Banksy took to Instagram to share a series of images which showed his bathroom covered in his infamous rat sketches

The Bristol ‘Aachoo!’ mural is not the first artwork from Banksy this year.

The elusive street artist kept himself busy during lockdown.

The last six months has seen a number of his trademark tongue-in-cheek artworks pop up across the UK – and many of them made a nod to Covid.

In April, in the peak of the first national lockdown, he posted an Instagram snap of a version of his famous rat designs getting up to no good in a bathroom.

The comical scene showed the rodents knocking the bathroom mirror to one side, hanging on the light pull, swinging on a towel ring and stepping on a tube of toothpaste. 

The anonymous artist captioned the picture: ‘My wife hates it when I work from home’. 

A month later a new artwork appeared at Southampton general hospital paying tribute to NHS staff during the coronavirus pandemic.

Titled ‘Game Changer,’ the monochrome painting depicted a young boy playing with a toy nurse over other superhero figurines Batman and Spiderman. 

Banksy's creation, 'Game Changer', appeared at Southampton general hospital and paid tribute to the brave NHS frontline staff fighting the coronavirus pandemic

Banksy's creation, 'Game Changer', appeared at Southampton general hospital and paid tribute to the brave NHS frontline staff fighting the coronavirus pandemic

Banksy’s creation, ‘Game Changer’, appeared at Southampton general hospital and paid tribute to the brave NHS frontline staff fighting the coronavirus pandemic

Banksy’s world famous Girl With a Pierced Eardrum painting was also given a coronavirus twist in April.

It depicts a take on Vermeer’s famous Girl with a Pearl Earring, replacing the earring with an outdoor security alarm.

A blue surgical mask was also added to the Bristol mural, although it is not known if this was the artist’s own doing.

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