The Sackler Family at the Louvre
The Louvre has removed the Sackler name from the walls of the historic museum. The Sackler family are owners of OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma. Recently, a growing scandal over the Sackler family’s alleged connection with the US opioid crisis has made the Louvre take action. As of Thursday, masking tape covered the Sackler name. The family name was previously in the Paris museum’s Sackler Wing of Oriental Antiquities. The wing, which houses Persian and Levantine artifacts, bore the family’s name since its induction in 1997. Shortly after the billionaire philanthropists sponsored its renovation.
Currently, the company, Purdue is receiving criticism for its aggressive marketing of the drug OxyContin. This opioid painkiller is at the center of a dependency crisis in the US. Several members of the Sackler family are facing lawsuits. These lawsuits allege that they boosted their wealth by pushing highly addictive and consequently, deadly painkillers. In an interview with Vanity Fair published in June, David Sackler insisted his family had nothing to do with the crisis. Stating, “We feel absolutely terrible. Facts will show we didn’t cause the crisis, but we want to help,”.
Opioids are a class of pharmaceuticals that include but are not limited to prescription painkillers like OxyContin, morphine, and fentanyl. As of 2017, an estimated 1.7 million individuals in the US suffered from substance use disorders. Reports show that this type of substance abuse is primarily related to prescription opioid pain relievers. With a family fortune estimated by Forbes at $13 billion, the Sacklers have made donations to museums and galleries around the world. Including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Royal Academy of Arts in London.
The Sackler Donation
However, criticism has grown over the Sacklers’ alleged link with the US opioid crisis. Several art galleries have said they are no longer accepting donations from the family. Including the British gallery group, Tate. Who said in March 2019 that it will no longer take financial contributions from the Sacklers. However, they have accepted about $5 million in the past. In May, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art followed this rising trend. A spokesperson from the Louvre claims that the Sackler name removal from the rooms in the wing because the naming period had expired. However, the Louvre has not made any comments as to why the Sackler name has stayed for the last 3 years. “The Theresa and Mortimer Sackler Foundation supported the renovation of rooms devoted to Persian and Levantine artifacts in 1996-1997. Since then, there have been no other gifts from the Sackler family,” the spokesperson said.
Continuing, “On October 10, 2003, the Board of Trustees of the Museum decided to limit the duration of the naming of the rooms to 20 years. This patronage is more than 20 years old. The naming is legally finished and these rooms no longer bear the name of Sackler.” Furthermore, on the museum’s website, references to the “Sackler Wing of Oriental Antiquities” have been removed.