The activist photographer Nan Goldin, who has staged anti-Sackler protests at leading international museums has welcomed the decision of the family and Trust to suspend “all new philanthropic giving”. The artist, who became addicted to Oxy-Contin suffered life-changing effects on her life. The painkiller-drug has earned the Sackler family billions, while the opioid crisis killed over 49,000 people in the US, last year alone. Doubt was raised concerning the acceptability of donations to the arts from the Sackler family by Goldin’s pressure group Sackler-Pain, no-doubt a force in the decision made public today.
They knew people were dying and they continued to sell OxyContin – Nan Goldin
Ms Goldin told the BBC this morning; “They are pulling back before anyone else can pull back from them,” She added, “I would appreciate the news if I heard [that Sackler] money was going to pay reparations…for all the damage they’ve done…I don’t know that this shows that they’re taking responsibility,” she said, adding that the family’s claims that they are not responsible for the opioid crisis in the US are “laughable”. “They knew people were dying and they continued and continue to sell OxyContin and falsely market it,” Goldin said.
The Sackler Trust issued the following statement, Theresa Sackler says that: “the current press attention that [the] legal cases in the United States is generating has created immense pressure on the scientific, medical, educational and arts institutions here in the UK, large and small, that I am so proud to support. This attention is distracting them from the important work that they do. The Trustees of the Sackler Trust have taken the difficult decision to temporarily pause all new philanthropic giving, while still honouring existing commitments.”
The charity recorded grants totalling £7.2m in 2017 to British organisations. This includes £1.5m for the restoration of the Painted Hall and its 18th-century frescoes in the Old Royal Naval College designed by architect Sir Christopher Wren which opened to the public last week.
Ruth Murphy, Head of Charities, Brewin Dolphin said: “The decision as to whether to accept funding from an organisation or charitable trust can be tough for the beneficiary cause. Trustees must balance the needs of beneficiaries and their cause with the moral dilemma of the source of funds and how they manage their financial affairs. This is neither the first nor the last time a charitable organisation will have to wrestle with this dilemma.
“This same ethical vigour must also apply to investing funds, which arguably is more straightforward as their charitable purpose can quite clearly be mapped to specific investment principles. The trust and expectations of donors, beneficiaries and the public make ethical behaviour a key plank of the all-important reputation of any charity”.
It was reported over the weekend that Tate, The National Portrait Gallery and the South London Gallery would take no further money from the Sackler family or the Sackler Trust.
OxyContin is one of the most addictive painkillers in the history of pharmacology. They advertised and distributed their medication knowing all the dangers. The Sackler family and their private company, Purdue Pharma, built their empire with the lives of hundreds of thousands. The bodies are piling up. In 2015, in the US alone, more than thirty-three thousand people died from opioid overdoses, half of them from prescription opioids; 80 percent of those who use heroin or buy fentanyl on the black market began with an opioid prescription. These statistics are growing exponentially.”
In 2018 the crisis was highlighted by the photographer Nan Goldin who wrote an essay in Art Forum stating ” The Sacklers made their fortune promoting addiction. OxyContin is one of the most addictive painkillers in the history of pharmacology. They advertised and distributed their medication knowing all the dangers. The Sackler family and their private company, Purdue Pharma, built their empire with the lives of hundreds of thousands. The bodies are piling up. In 2015, in the US alone, more than thirty-three thousand people died from opioid overdoses, half of them from prescription opioids; 80 percent of those who use heroin or buy fentanyl on the black market began with an opioid prescription. These statistics are growing exponentially.”
Artist Nan Goldin stated; “I’ve started the group, P.A.I.N. (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now), to hold the Sacklers accountable. To get their ear, we will target their philanthropy. They have washed their blood money through the halls of museums and universities around the world. We demand that the Sacklers and Purdue Pharma use their fortune to fund addiction treatment and education. There is no time to waste.”