The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City will no longer accept money from members of the billionaire Sackler family, which owns the company that makes the opioid OxyContin, the museum announced Wednesday.
The museum said its board of trustees made the decision Tuesday after reflecting on the current opioid crisis, the individuals’ ties to opioid production and the scores of lawsuits against them and their company, Purdue Pharma.
“The Sackler family has graciously supported The Met for 50 years and has not proposed any new contributions,” Daniel Weiss, president and CEO of the Met, said in a statement to HuffPost. “Nonetheless, in consideration of the ongoing litigation, the prudent course of action at this time is to suspend acceptance of gifts from individuals associated with this public health crisis.”
Litigation from U.S. states, counties and cities accuse members of the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma of exacerbating and profiting from the opioid epidemic through deceptive marketing of the prescription painkiller. New York’s attorney general, in a lawsuit filed in March, accused the Sackler family of being the “masterminds” of a scheme that led to the national opioid epidemic, NPR reported.
New York City’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum similarly cut financial ties with the Sacklers in March following protests by anti-opioid activists. Britain’s National Portrait Gallery and Tate Galleries have also said they will no longer accept the family’s money.
While announcing his museum’s decision, Weiss stressed the importance of philanthropy when it comes to sustaining and growing the museum.
“Private philanthropy literally built The Metropolitan Museum of Art,” he said. “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. Every object and much of the building itself came from individuals driven by a love for art and the spirit of philanthropy.”