News Register for our weekly news digest here.

Tate Britain.
Tate Britain.

Tate Will No Longer Accept Donations from Sackler Trust

As the Sackler family’s relationship with arts institutions worldwide comes under increased scrutiny, Britain’s Tate announced on Thursday, March 21 that it will reject all future donations from the family’s charitable organization the Sackler Trust. The landmark decision follows the National Portrait Gallery in London’s announcement earlier this week that it mutually agreed with the Sackler Trust to put a $1.3 million grant on hold indefinitely.

The Sacklers have made billions of dollars from the sale of OxyContin, the powerful painkiller manufactured by their private pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma—which was led by the late Mortimer Sackler and his brother Raymond. They have recently been targeted by activists such as photographer Nan Goldin, who want them to be held accountable for their role in the United States’ opioid crisis, which has claimed more than 200,000 lives. Several family members, including Dame Theresa Sackler, who chairs the Sackler Trust and is a board member of the Victoria and Albert Museum and a trustee of the Tate Foundation, are facing legal action for misinforming doctors and patients about the risks of taking the drug. They have consistently denied any wrongdoing. 

According to The Times, the institution made the decision to stop accepting money from the Sacklers following a recommendation from its ethics committee. A Tate spokesperson said: “The Sackler family has given generously to Tate in the past, as they have to a large number of UK arts institutions. 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.”

The Telegraph reports that Tate—which encompasses Tate Britain and Tate Modern in London and Tate Liverpool and Tate St. Ives in Cornwall—has received more than $5 million from Sackler family trusts over the last two decades.

In a statement provided to the New York Times, a spokesperson for the Mortimer and Raymond Sackler family said: “We deeply sympathise with all the communities, families and individuals affected by the addiction crisis in America. The allegations made against family members in relation to this are strongly denied and will be vigorously defended in court.”