The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City says it will no longer accept any donations from the notorious Sackler family, owners of Purdue Pharma who have been ridden with controversy due to their contribution to and profiting from the opioid addiction crisis.
The Met released a statement on Wednesday saying that it decided to end their relationship with the Sacklers due to the company’s “production of opioids and the ensuing health crisis surrounding the abuse of these medications.” It is uncertain whether the Met will be renaming their Sackler Wing, however, an integral part of the museum.
The families of Mortimer and Raymond Sackler continue to deny the allegations that they are linked to the crisis, saying: “while the allegations against our family are false and unfair, we understand that accepting gifts at this time would put the Met in a difficult position. We respect the Met and that is the last thing we would want to do. Our goal has always been to support the valuable work of such outstanding organizations, and we remain committed to doing so.”
Purdue Pharma, is a privately held pharmaceutical company owned principally by descendants of Mortimer and Raymond Sackler, who bought and built the company in 1952. In 2007 the company paid one of the largest fines ever imposed on a pharmaceutical firm for mislabeling its product OxyContin, and three of its executives were found guilty of criminal charges. While the company has recently shifted its focus to absue-detering medications, they continue to market and sell opioids, and continue to be involved in lawsuits around the crisis.
President and CEO of the Met, said in the statement that private philanthropy, the funding category that the Sacklers fall under, literally built the museum. “What distinguishes our Museum from its global peers, such as the Prado, the Hermitage, and the Louvre, is the fact that we did not begin with a royal or imperial collection,” he said. “Every object and much of the building itself came from individuals driven by a love for art and the spirit of philanthropy. For this reason, it is our responsibility to ensure that the public is aware of the diligence that we take to generate philanthropic support. Our donors deserve this, and the public should expect it.”