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Our Incomplete List of Cultural Institutions and Initiatives Funded by the Sackler Family

The secretive family whose pharmaceutical company hid the addictive effects of OxyContin also funds dozens of museums and universities.

The Serpentine Sackler gallery in London (image courtesy Jose Mesa’s Flickstream)

As the opioid epidemic continues — according to a Quartz headline published earlier this month “US millennials were almost 20% more likely to die in 2016 than 2014” — everyone from politicians to everyday citizens is trying to not only help those already addicted, but to also hold accountable the pharmaceutical companies that precipitated the rise of dangerously addictive opioid prescriptions. 

In this month’s Artforum (which is still co-owned by Knight Landesman), photographer Nan Goldin wrote a heartbreaking account of how she got hooked on OxyContin herself and barely survived. As many others have already done, Goldin noted that the Sackler family, whose name we see on so many museum, library, and hospital walls, is the one responsible. “They have washed their blood money through the halls of museums and universities around the world,” she wrote. “We demand that the Sacklers and Purdue Pharma use their fortune to fund addiction treatment and education. There is no time to waste.”

The Sacklers are one of the wealthiest families in the world (more than the Rockefellers or Mellons, according to an October article in The New Yorker), at least partially due to the success of their pharmaceutical company, Purdue Pharma, and their deliberate downplaying of the addictiveness of OxyContin. Although Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty to felony charges in 2007 for misleading doctors, the Sackler family has never been held personally responsible.

While Goldin’s #shameonsackler movement seeks to force the Sacklers to admit accountability, we’ve created a guide to many of the arts and cultural organizations that receive funding from the family. We recognize that this is an incomplete list; we will keep adding to it in the coming days.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this list included institutions affiliated with Elizabeth Sackler and Arthur M. Sackler, her father. A representative of Dr. Elizabeth A. Sackler and the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation reached out to Hyperallergic to explain:

Arthur M. Sackler passed away in 1987, eight years before Oxycontin existed. His brothers, Mortimer and Raymond, purchased his one-third option in Purdue Frederick from his estate a few months after his death. None of his descendants — most notably, his daughter, Elizabeth — have had any involvement with, nor ownership of, Purdue Pharma or benefitted from the sale of Oxycontin in any way.

Hyperallergic reviewed a promissory note from the sale of Arthur Sackler’s stock options to his brothers, Mortimer and Raymond. The new information confirms the sale of Purdue Pharma in the note dated November 13, 1987, and all institutions that received donations by Dr. Elizabeth Sackler and Arthur M. Sackler have been removed from the list. It is notable that artist Nan Goldin does not make any distinctions between the various parts of the Sackler family in her article.

New York

Dulwich Picture Gallery at sunset (photo by Fæ, via Wikimedia Commons)

UK

The Sackler Crossing at Kew Gardens (photo by Prl42, via Wikimedia Commons)

France

Germany

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