Someone tried to steal the painting Banksy donated to a U.K. hospital.
A member of staff has their photograph taken in front of a new artwork painted by Banksy that has gone on display to staff and patients on Level C of Southampton General Hospital. Photo by Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images.
A thief attempted to steal a Banksy painting from a Southampton hospital in early May, just two days after the artist donated the work to the hospital to benefit healthcare workers and the U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS). The suspect, disguised in a HAZMAT suit and wielding a cordless drill, was seen on camera scoping out the area near the painting before security escorted him off the premises.
Security spotted him and asked a supervisor if they should stop him. They were told to watch him and he was seen walking past the picture at least five times, clearly having a good look.
Banksy donated the painting, Game Changer (2020), to Southampton General Hospital on May 6th. The monochrome work features a young boy playing with a figurine of an NHS nurse while Batman and Spiderman toys lie in a nearby trash can, and was accompanied by a note from the artist thanking the hospital staff for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to providing a morale boost for hospital workers, the painting will also provide a potential source of revenue, with the hospital planning to auction off the work in the fall to raise money for the NHS. According to some experts, the work could potentially fetch over $6 million.
This is not the first high-profile art heist to occur during the global pandemic. Back in March, Vincent van Gogh’s The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring 1884 (1884) was stolen overnight from Amsterdam’s Museum Singer Laren, which had been closed to the public due to COVID-19.