Three paintings by anonymous British artist, Banksy, have sold for $2.9m at a London auction, with the proceeds being donated to a hospital in Bethlehem, Palestine.

Banksy is known for his works of political and social commentary. 

The trio of paintings, titled the “Mediterranean Sea View 2017” reference the European refugee crisis. 

The “traditionally framed, romantic-era style oil paintings depicting tumultuous seascapes” as described by BBC, were altered by Banksy’s addition of life jackets and buoys.

Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s head of contemporary art for Europe, said prior to the auction, “In ‘Mediterranean Sea View 2017,’ Banksy corrupts three found oil paintings with his own witty reworkings to create something that, while posing as a 19th-Century seascape, spotlights one of the burning issues of the 21st Century.”

The paintings are a powerful social commentary on Europe’s migrant crisis of the past decade. The migrant crisis saw countless amounts of refugees enduring dangerous journeys across the Mediterranean and Aegean seas on boats and makeshift to flee war, armed conflict and social unrest. While many made it to European shores, thousands died at sea. 

Prior to the London based auction, the paintings were displayed in the lobby of The Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem. The Walled Off Hotel was opened by Banksy in 2017, to draw attention to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

They were donated to ABCD Bethlehem, a non-for-profit group that supports Palestinian children with disabilities. The proceeds will go towards building a new acute stroke unit and buying children’s rehabilitation equipment for the Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation (BASR). The BASR provides medical, surgical and rehabilitation services in Palestine.

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