Wednesday, 19 June, 2019

£1m donation to National Portrait Gallery by Sackler family will not proceed

The Tate group including London's Tate Britain and Tate Modern announced Thursday it will no longer take donations from the Sackler family The Tate group including London's Tate Britain and Tate Modern announced Thursday it will no longer take donations from the Sackler family
Steven Clarke | 25 March, 2019, 14:52

But the investigations have recently turned to the Sackler family as well, who for years were more prominently known for their philanthropic donations to museums and medical institutions than as the family behind Purdue.

Tate's trustees made the decision after advice from the institution's independent ethics committee, a spokesman said in an email.

The House Oversight Committee is asking Purdue Pharma for documents that could shine a light on the billionaire family that owns the company and its alleged role in the opioid crisis. Ian Dejardin, who was the Sackler Director of Dulwich Picture Gallery, said: "It's going to be hard not to make her sound utterly saintly".

But the Thursday announcement, affecting Tate Modern and Tate Britain in London, as well as Tate Liverpool and Tate St. Ives in Cornwall, could have a bigger impact in the art world.

In a statement this week, the National Portrait Gallery and the Sackler Trust said they had "jointly agreed not to proceed" with the donation.

"The allegations against family members are vigorously denied, but, to avoid being a distraction for the gallery, we have decided not to proceed at this time with the donation".

The Sackler Trust has withdrawn a planned £1m donation to London's National Portrait Gallery (NPG) after controversy over the Sackler family's role in the United States opioid crisis.

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The Sacklers have donated more than £4 million - about $5.3 million - to the group in the past, a Tate spokesperson told CNN.

"Eight people in a single family made the choices that caused much of the opioid epidemic", the lawsuit, filed earlier this week in federal court in the southern district of NY, states.

The lawsuit in the southern district of NY has been brought by city and county authorities across America, including, for example, 42 counties and cities in Alabama, 31 counties in California, 21 cities and counties in Florida, 28 counties in IL, 51 cities and counties in Kentucky, more than 100 towns and cities in MA and dozens of cities and counties in other states including Wisconsin, Virginia, Utah, Tennessee, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Indiana and MI.

Family members such as Richard Sackler, Purdue's former chief executive, created a "public nuisance" through the company's relentless OxyContin marketing for unapproved uses, according to the NY suit. "The family is a large extended group and their support of The Met began decades before the opioid crisis".

The company is reported to be now considering its legal options, including bankruptcy.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, which has also received money from members of the Sackler family, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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