V&A Dundee.

Politicians Pressure V&A Dundee to Return Gift from Sackler Family

The V&A Dundee, Scotland’s new design museum, is the latest institution to face backlash over accepting funding from the charitable organizations of the Sackler family, several members of which are embroiled in lawsuits in the United States over the family’s company Purdue Pharma and its role in the opioid crisis.

Chris Marshall of The Scotsman reports that the museum received a grant of about $650,000 from the Sackler Trust, which is chaired by Dame Theresa Sackler, who is one of the defendants named in a lawsuit that was filed by the Massachusetts Attorney General last year. Earlier this month, Purdue Pharma tried to have the case dismissed, claiming that it presents a “sensationalist and distorted narrative.”

Criticism over the grant money also stems from the city’s own troubled history with drugs. According to Vice UK, Dundee has the highest rate of drug-related deaths per capita in Europe. Many hoped the institution, which opened in September, would help revitalize the city and serve as a cultural landmark on its underdeveloped waterfront.

“Public and charitable bodies in Scotland who’ve benefited from the company’s profits via the Sackler Trust should return those donations or otherwise work to ensure justice is delivered for opioid victims,” Ross Greer, a Scottish Green Party politician and member of Scottish parliament, said.

Scottish Labour Party politician Monica Lennon added: “Profiting from addiction is never ethical. Transparency around donations is really important as no city or community wants to benefit from the suffering of others.”

In response, a representative of the V&A Dundee said: “V&A Dundee has received historic support from the Sackler Trust and the Dr. Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation for the creation of the museum, as have many other major cultural projects in the UK.”

The trust, which has donated more than $78 million in the UK, also recently gave to the universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow. London’s National Portrait Gallery, which was awarded a gift of more than $1 million in June 2016 but has yet to accept the funding, is also under scrutiny.