Second British Art Gallery Pledges to Reject Donations From Purdue Pharma’s Sackler Family

March 22, 2019, 6:43 PM UTC

A group of British art galleries has become the second art institution to refuse donations from the Sackler family this week, citing the family’s connection to the prescription drug OxyContin and its role in the U.S. opioid epidemic.

The Tate art galleries—which includes Tate Modern and Tate Britain in London, Tate St Ives, and Tate Liverpool—have received £4 million (more than $5.2 million) in donations from the Sackler family in the past, The Guardian reports, but said Thursday they will no longer accept such gifts.

“The Sackler family has given generously to Tate in the past, as they have to a large number of UK arts institutions. We do not intend to remove references to this historic philanthropy,” the Tate said in a statement, according to The Guardian. “However, in the present circumstances, we do not think it right to seek or accept further donations from the Sacklers.”

Members of the Sackler family own the drug making company Purdue Pharma, which makes the addictive painkiller OxyContin. They reportedly made more than $4 billion between 2008 and 2016—the years leading up to President Donald Trump’s declaration that the opioid epidemic is a national emergency.

More than 100 people die from opioid overdoses every day in the U.S., totaling more than 37,000 people per year. A lawsuit against Purdue—which names eight Sackler family members—charges the company with aggressively marketing OxyContin despite knowing its addictive qualities, contributing to the opioid epidemic. The Sacklers and Purdue deny any wrongdoing.

Earlier this week, the National Portrait Gallery in London said it would not accept a 1 million pound ($1.3 million) pledge from a charitable organization run by the Sacklers. American photographer Nan Goldin had told the National Portrait Gallery that she would not allow her work to be displayed there if the institution accepted Sackler funds, The Guardian reports.

While Goldin had not discussed any similar agreements with the Tate galleries, she told The Guardian that she had planned to hold protests alongside her show there had the donations continued.