Tate galleries say no to money from Sackler family because of drug links

The Tate Modern in London is one of the art museums affected by the announcement.
The Tate Modern in London is one of the art museums affected by the announcement.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

LONDON (NYTimes) - Tate, which runs some of Britain's most important art museums, announced on Thursday (March 21) that it would no longer accept financial donations from the Sackler family, whose pharmaceutical interests have been linked to an opioid crisis.

"The Sackler family has given generously to Tate in the past, as they have to a large number of British arts institutions," a Tate statement said.

"We do not intend to remove references to this historic philanthropy. However, in the present circumstances, we do not think it right to seek or accept further donations from the Sacklers."

Tate's trustees made the decision after advice from its independent ethics committee.

The news is the latest sign of the changing climate in the art world towards the Sacklers, who are major donors to museums.

Family members own Purdue Pharma, which makes painkiller OxyContin and is facing hundreds of lawsuits as a result of the epidemic of opioid addiction.

Tate's statement came two days after Britain's National Portrait Gallery said it would not accept a donation from the London-based Sackler Trust, one of the family's charitable foundations.

But the Thursday announcement, affecting Tate Modern and Tate Britain in London, as well as Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives in Cornwall, could have a bigger impact in the art world. All these galleries are major tourist attractions and home to large, high-profile exhibitions.

Much of the focus on the Sacklers' donations to art institutions has been in the United States, where deaths and addiction associated with prescription opioids have become an unrelenting crisis.

But awareness of the crisis is high in Britain, and that has led to pressure on galleries, with the news media asking frequent questions about donations from the Sacklers.