Sackler family propose settlement for opioid victims while photographer and campaigner Nan Goldin is arrested in New York

Nan Goldin arrested in New York during demonstration outside Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office in Manhattan, New York

Despite reports that the Sackler family, who are significant donors to arts institutions across the world, would give up control of Purdue Pharma and pay out $3bn to plaintiffs who became addicted to the medication OxyContin manufactured by the company, an analysis by the Washington Post has revealed that following the proposed settlement, the Sacklers could end up keeping most of their personal fortune.

The settlement includes the transformation of Purdue Pharma, which would go into bankruptcy, into a trust that would tackle the opioid crisis, but by selling their international drug conglomerate Mundipharma, the Sacklers could increase their personal share of $10 billion to $12 billion. While Purdue would manufacture anti-addiction medication and overdose antidotes and distribute these for free, these benefits would be funded by the continued sale of OxyContin.

Major international institutions that have accepted large donations from the Sacklers, including the Serpentine Galleries, the Victoria & Albert Museum, and the Tate Gallery in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) and the Guggenheim in New York and the Louvre in Paris, have been the target of protests and petitions with the aim of removing the Sackler name from plaques and buildings.

Photographer Nan Goldin has been a key figure in the removal and refusal of the Sackler family’s donations from cultural institutions through staged protests including a ‘die-in’ the Met in 2018 and at the Guggenheim in 2019, and the threat of withdrawal from a retrospective of her work at the National Portrait Gallery in London.

It was reported last week that Goldin, along with 12 members of P.A.I.N., an activist group she founded in 2017, were arrested outside Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office in Manhattan, New York, during a demonstration at which protesters held signs that read ‘Governor while you wait New Yorkers die’ and ‘Cuomo lies, people die!’. Activists at the protest accused Cuomo of not doing enough to support the development of overdose protection centres. While he has expressed the need for drug-addiction treatment, Cuomo has yet to pursue concrete actions in tackling the issue. Police made the arrests when protesters blocked the entrances of the site.

2 September 2019