Suspending new donations: Sackler Trust halts United Kingdom donations over opioid crisis outcry

Elias Hubbard
March 26, 2019

The Guggenheim Museum in NY has stated it received a total of $9 million in gifts from the Mortimer D. Sackler family between 1995 and 2015, but haven't received any contributions from the Sackler family since.

"No additional gifts are planned, and the Guggenheim does not plan to accept any gifts", the museum said.

The suit was filed on March 18 in the Southern District of New York, CNN reported.

The Guggenheim, founded in 1939 and known for its distinctive design courtesy of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, houses modern art from the likes of Pablo Picasso, Edgar Degas and many more.

The Sacklers are major donors to museums, galleries and theaters in the United Kingdom and the U.S - between 2013 and 2017, the Mortimer D. Sackler Foundation alone gave away more than $6 million, according to tax records.

Earlier this month, a £1 million donation to the National Portrait Gallery was cancelled, and the trust has now said all philanthropic giving will temporarily cease so the issue "will not be a distraction for institutions that are applying for grants". The Sacklers are known for their high-profile donations to support the arts and sciences, including to the Soloman R. Guggenheim Museum in NY (which has also said it will accept no further donations from the family), the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History, and London's Victoria and Albert Museum.

The group's mission statement asks that "museums, universities, and educational institutions worldwide remove Sackler signage and publicly refuse future funding from the Sacklers".

The lawsuit claims more and more people die from drug overdoses every year and that the majority of those cases involves opioids. "Their money should go to in some way pay for all the damage they've done". Of those, about 46 each day are attributed to prescription drug overdoses, including OxyContin, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The Sackler family is listed as the 19th-richest in the world by Forbes at an estimated $13 billion.

The Sackler Trust is run by the Sackler family, members of which own Purdue Pharma - a company selling the prescription painkiller OxyContin that is facing hundreds of lawsuits in the U.S. over claims it causes addiction.

A representative for Dr. Mortimer Sackler and Raymond Sackler, the late founders of the company, issued a statement denying the allegations in the lawsuit as "baseless" and saying they "place blame where it does not belong for a complex public health crisis".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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