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CASE STUDY

Nan Goldin (bottom right) with P.A.I.N. protesters in the Sackler Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, March 10, 2018. Photo: George Etheredge/New York Times/Redux.

ONE NIGHT IN THE SUMMER OF 2017, a few weeks before neo-Nazis marched in Charlottesville, I ran into a well-liked art adviser at a party on the second floor of New York’s Russian Samovar. We knew each other vaguely and greeted each other warmly. The well-liked art adviser asked what I was writing. I answered that I was working on an investigative piece with some relevance to the art world.

“Oh?”

I asked if the art adviser was familiar with the Sackler family.

“The Sacklers, yes, of course. I work with them sometimes.” The art adviser then added, whispering: “And yes, I know all about where the money comes from.”

“Interesting,” I said. “Most people don’t.”

“I know it comes from OxyContin.” The art adviser grinned, proud to be in the know about a piece of collector gossip, which was, after all, the art adviser’s job.

“Pretty bad stuff,” I suggested.

“Yeah, well. I mean, we’re all guilty

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