New York City’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum has announced that it will no longer accept donations from the billionaire Sackler family, owners of the company that makes the opioid OxyContin, in what appears to be the first stance by a museum in the U.S.
The iconic art museum, in a statement obtained by HuffPost on Sunday, did not mention the ongoing opioid epidemic or any other reasoning behind its decision. It said it received $9 million from the family between 1995 and 2015, but nothing since.
“No additional gifts are planned, and the Guggenheim does not plan to accept any gifts,” the museum said. It declined further comment on what it called matters of board governance.
The decision follows anti-opioid protesters last month unfurling banners that targeted the Sackler family, founders of Purdue Pharma, from the Guggenheim Museum’s spiral balconies. They also dropped fake paper prescriptions like confetti.
Prescription Addiction Intervention Now (PAIN), an anti-opioid organization that organized the demonstration, carried out a similar protest earlier this month inside New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is another beneficiary of the Sackler family.
On Saturday, PAIN celebrated the Guggenheim’s decision to cut financial ties with the Sackler family, whose pain medicines have generated a $13 billion net worth for the family according to Forbes. PAIN, in an Instagram post, urged other museums to follow, while hoping for a “domino effect.”
Britain’s Tate Galleries last week said it will no longer accept donations from the family, citing “present circumstances.” Two days earlier, Britain’s National Portrait Gallery made a similar announcement involving the family’s London-based Sackler Trust foundation.
Mother Jones on Saturday published a list of museums that have been the top 10 beneficiaries of the Sackler family since 2001, which can be seen here.
The Sackler family and Purdue Pharma are meanwhile facing lawsuits attempting to hold them accountable for the opioid crisis that kills more than 130 people each day, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
One federal lawsuit recently filed against members of the Sackler family involves more than 600 U.S. cities and Native American tribes from 28 states, CNN reported on Sunday.