The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) has removed the Sackler name from its galleries, due to the family’s role in the global opioid crisis, with members making their fortune through the highly addictive painkiller OxyContin.
“The V&A and the family of the late Dr Mortimer D. Sackler have mutually agreed that the V&A’s Centre for Arts Education and Exhibition Road courtyard will no longer carry the Sackler name,” a V&A spokesperson told The Art Newspaper. “Dame Theresa Sackler was a trustee of the V&A between 2011 and 2019, and we are immensely grateful for her service to the V&A over the years. We have no current plans to rename the spaces.”
Mortimer Sackler was co-owner of American pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma, alongside his brother Raymond.
Purdue Pharma filed for bankruptcy in 2019, with around 2,700 lawsuits filed against the company. Under the Sacklers’ direction, Purdue Pharma aggressively marketed OxyContin – a drug they manufactured and distributed – including masking its addictiveness despite knowing its dangers.
OxyContin has contributed to the death of over 500,000 Americans in the last 20 years amid the country’s ongoing opioid epidemic. A payout to victims’ families is believed to be in the region of £5.4bn. However, it remains stuck in US court proceedings.
The Sacklers used their fortune to donate to arts and education institutions worldwide. Many of these high-profile institutions have renounced the Sackler name, including the Tate, Serpentine, British Museum, Paris’ Louvre, and New York’s Metropolitan Museum.
Until this weekend, visitors could still find signs for the “Sackler Centre for Arts Education” and the “Sackler Courtyard” at the V&A. Both have now been taken down.
The V&A says they decided to cut ties with the Sackler family in May this year.