After half a million known opioid-related deaths, mainly in the US, the Sackler family, owners of Perdue Pharma Corporation, have had their name wiped from seven exhibition spaces at The Metropolitan Museum in New York. The museum and the Sackler family jointly announced the news this afternoon in the wake of hostility towards the family’s drug company.
“Our families have always strongly supported the Met, and we believe this to be in the best interest of the museum and the important mission that it serves,” the descendants of Dr Mortimer Sackler and Dr Raymond Sackler said in a statement. “The earliest of these gifts were made almost 50 years ago, and now we are passing the torch to others who might wish to step forward to support the museum.”
We will target their philanthropy. They have washed their blood money through the halls of museums and universities around the world – Nan Goldin
Several international museums have turned down Sackler money in the aftermath of the opioid scandal which rocked the artworld, over the last few years. The Serpentine Gallery in London and the Louvre in Paris have refused funds from the billionaire family. Other museums, including the National Gallery and the V&A, which have Sackler dedicated spaces, said they had no plans, at the moment to remove the name. This will likely bow under public pressure.
Dan Weiss, the Met’s president and chief executive officer, said, “The Met has been built by the philanthropy of generations of donors — and the Sacklers have been among our most generous supporters,” said “This gracious gesture by the Sacklers aids the museum in continuing to serve this and future generations. We greatly appreciate it.”
Oxycontin was unleashed and aggressively promoted by the Sacklers as a safe and reliable drug for pain management. In 1996, When Purdue Pharma introduced Oxycontin, sales grew from $48 million in 1996 to almost $1.1 billion in 2000. Unfortunately, the Sackler drug was a highly addictive opioid or, by any other name, synthetic Heroin. By 2004 Oxycontin had become one of the leading drugs of abuse in the United States. Patients prescribed the medication became addicted, and the Sackler family grew rich from their misery. The family has behaved disgracefully. Their company Purdue Pharma has been charged with several felony offences.
Artlyst has covered this dynasty’s rise and fall for several years now, and, in return, we have had numerous heavy-handed emails from their legal team relating to articles mentioning the family name in connection to Sackler Pain activist/photographer Nan Goldin. The Sackler PR machine has done everything in its power to discredit the internationally renowned photographer, a former Oxycontin addict, labelling her ‘Crazy.’
Artist Nan Goldin stated in the past; “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.”
The family hired an army of attorneys and PR Consultants to deflect attention away from the family and place it on the corporation. They seem to have succeeded, and not a single family member has been charged or held to account for the hundreds of thousands of deaths caused by OxyContin. Perdue Pharma is quick to point out that they were not the sole manufacturer of opioid drugs, and other companies have not been as vilified as Perdue.
Following Purdue Pharma’s recent guilty plea, global art institutions have removed or have committed to eliminating the family’s name from their walls and plaques. However, those who have previously accepted donations from the Sackler family call for amendments that offer sufficient concessions to protect nonprofit organisations that wish to remove the Sackler name from their museum walls or other arts and medical establishments.