Banksy tribute to Britain's health service sells for record $27 million at auction

In a Christie's auction streamed live, the painting sold for a hammer price of 14.4 million pounds. PHOTO: UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL SOUTHAMPTON/AFP

LONDON (REUTERS) - A Banksy painting showing a young boy playing with a toy nurse as a superhero rather than Batman or Spider-Man sold for more than US$20 million (S$27 million) on Tuesday (March 23), setting an auction record for the elusive British street artist.

Game Changer, which was unveiled last May at University Hospital Southampton, paid tribute to the front-line workers of Britain's National Health Service (NHS) in their fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

The black-and-white artwork shows a young boy lifting a nurse, her arm stretched and wearing a cape, while traditional superheroes Batman and Spider-Man lie in a bin.

In a Christie's auction streamed live, the painting sold for a hammer price of £14.4 million (S$27 million). Added fees gave it a final price of £16.758 million, a world auction record for Banksy, according to Christie's.

The painting had carried an estimate of £2.5 million to £3.5 million.

Christie's said proceeds would go towards "support(ing) the well-being of University Hospital Southampton staff and patients".

The sale took place as Britons across the country on Tuesday marked one year since Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered the nation into its first lockdown.

A minute's silence was observed to remember the more than 126,000 people who have lost their lives since to the virus.

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