Home Arts & Leisure Guggenheim Museum rejects future donations from Purdue Pharma’s Sackler family

Guggenheim Museum rejects future donations from Purdue Pharma’s Sackler family


New York City’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum announced that it will no longer accept philanthropic donations from the Sackler family, the owners of Stamford-based Purdue Pharma.

Sackler Purdue Pharma Guggenheim Museum
Guggenheim Museum in New York City. Photo courtesy the museum

The museum issued a statement noting that it received “a total of $7 million in gifts from members of the Mortimer D. Sackler family initiated in 1995 and paid out through 2006 to establish and support the Sackler Center for Arts Education, which serves approximately 300,000 youth, adults and families each year.” The Fifth Avenue-based museum also acknowledged the Sackler family donated an additional $2 million between 1999 and 2015 to support the museum.

However, the Guggenheim added while it has not received any donations from the Sackler family since 2015 and was not due to receive any additional gifts, it insisted that it “does not plan to accept any gifts” from the Sacklers going forward.

The Guggenheim did not explain why it was making this announcement, but it follows similar rejections by three major art institutions in London that were less circumspect in linking the Sacklers to the opioid crisis.

Last week, the Tate group of art galleries announced it was rejecting future Sackler donations by claiming “in the present circumstances we do not think it right to seek or accept further donations from the Sacklers.”

London’s National Portrait Gallery rejected a $1.3 million donation from the family last week and the Sackler Trust issued a statement that observed how “recent reporting of allegations made against Sackler family members may cause this new donation to deflect the National Portrait Gallery from its important work.”

Also last week, the South London Gallery admitted that it quietly returned $165,000 to the Sacklers during 2018, with gallery director Margot Heller telling The Art Newspaper that “the gallery’s board took a majority decision that it was in the best interests of the charity to return the grant.”

The Sacklers’ privately owned Purdue Pharma has been the subject of numerous lawsuits that claim the company’s marketing of OxyContin exacerbated the ongoing opioid health crisis. BBC News zeroed in on the Sacklers’ legal woes with an article bearing the headline “Is this America’s most hated family?”

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