Game Changer, by Banksy. Courtesy of Christie’s Auction House

Nearly one year ago, during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, a painting appeared hanging on the wall at the University Hospital Southampton in the United Kingdom. Almost completely monochrome, the painting depicts a child ignoring his Batman and Superman toys laying in a trash can, and instead playing with a new superhero toy: a masked nurse wearing a cape and a Red Cross emblem. The symbolic 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.” Banksy, an England-based street artist, had gifted this painting, Game Changer, to Southampton Hospitals Charity.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Banksy (@banksy)

Last week, the painting did more than brighten the halls of the hospital. Game Changer set a new record becoming the most expensive Banksy painting ever sold at auction, selling for £16.7 million ($23.1 million) at Christie’s Auction House in London on March 23, 2021. All the proceeds from the sale of the artwork will be used to support the wellbeing of University Hospital Southampton staff and patients as well as associated health organizations and charities across the UK, according to Christie’s. The piece honoring UK healthcare workers nearly doubled Banksy’s previous record in 2019 of £9.9 million ($13.6 million) for Devolved Parliamenta satirical painting that depicts the House of Commons filled with chimpanzees. Banksy’s work has often engaged with society’s issues. Using walls as his weapon, the anonymous artist tackled topics of politics, consumerism, war, capitalism, and climate change.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Banksy (@banksy)

Banksy used the pandemic as a source of inspiration in other works. In July 2020, he spray-painted a series of rats in the London Underground encouraging people to wear masks. In December, he painted Aachoo, a woman, mask-less, sneezing on the side of a house on England’s steepest residential road in Bristol.

Compared to many of Banksy’s most famous artworks, Game Changer isn’t satirical, or a critique on society. Instead, the work offers an image of hope, says Christie’s.

Irreverence, parody, and calls to arms are absent: instead, it represents a personal tribute to those who continue to turn the tide of the pandemic,” they said in the press release. “Its style is one of nostalgic purity, yet its message looks firmly toward to the future. As an artwork, however, it will remain forever a symbol of its time: a reminder of the world’s real game changers, and of the vital work they perform.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Banksy (@banksy)


Where Art, Fashion & Culture Collide

Member Login

Forgot Password?

Join Us

Password Reset

Please enter your e-mail address. You will receive a new password via e-mail.