New York’s famed Metropolitan Museum of Art will remove the names of its most controversial donor groups – the billionaire Sackler family – from its galleries.
The news comes in the wake of leading members of the American family, one of America’s richest, accused of fueling America’s deadly opioid crisis with the aggressive sale of the country’s prescription narcotic pain reliever. family business, OxyContin.
The Met, which overlooks Central Park and is home to some of the most famous and treasured works of art and antiques in existence, announced Thursday that it has struck a deal with the descendants of two of the Sackler brothers behind OxyContin that seven spaces of exhibitions named at the institution would no longer bear the name Sackler.
This includes the exhibition space of the Temple of Dendur, the ancient Egyptian temple, described by the Met as one of the iconic and most beloved works of art it houses, which is on display in the Sackler Wing. .
The museum’s decision follows several years of hundreds of civil lawsuits and civil and criminal investigations against certain members of the Sackler family who own the Connecticut-based Purdue Pharma company, which makes the powerful pain reliever OxyContin.
A New York bankruptcy judge in September approved a settlement from Purdue Pharma, including around $ 4.5 billion from the owners of the billionaire Sackler family, though the decision is still being challenged in court and has caused the indignation of many critics and activists.
Some wanted to see those family members barred from being protected from further civil liability and also hoped some Sacklers would end up in jail, the odds of which faded when Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty to three criminal charges last year. and paid $ 8 billion in fines and damages. .
The Met announced that the families of the late Mortimer Sackler and the late Raymond Sackler “have mutually agreed to take this step” in order to allow the museum to continue with its “primary mission.”
A statement from the descendants of the two brothers said, “Our families have always been strong supporters of the Met, and we believe this is in the best interest of the museum and the important mission it serves.”
The press release added: âThe first of these donations was made almost 50 years ago, and now we are passing the torch to others who may wish to get involved in supporting the Museum. “
Dan Weiss, president and CEO of the museum, said “the Sacklers have been among our most generous supporters” and referred to “this gracious gesture” from the family.
At the height of the legal battle against the owners of Purdue Pharma in 2019, members of the Sackler family were being sued by several US cities, counties and states, with allegations in civil lawsuits including that “eight people in one family made the choices that caused much of the opioid epidemic in the United States “- via a” deadly, deceptive … illegal scheme “to flood the United States with Purdue’s OxyContin.
American fine art photographer Nan Goldin designed and led a direct action protest at the Met in 2018 against Sackler’s philanthropy. She then protested to institutions such as the Guggenheim in New York, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the Louvre in Paris, all of which had benefited from Sackler’s money and displayed the surname, demanding that the institutions artists and academics stop taking their dollars and also take the name.
The Met was slow to respond, but then followed other institutions in saying it would no longer accept Sackler gifts and ultimately remove the Sackler name from its premises.