Guggenheim Rejects Opioid-Family Money. But These Museums Are Still Taking It.

The Guggenheim became the latest museum to say no to any more money from the Sacklers.

Felix Hörhager/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Purdue Pharma’s production and sale of OxyContin helped make the Sacklers one of the richest families in America—and, in turn, a top donor to some of the world’s largest art museums. But it also helped create and abet the opioid crisis, and on Friday, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York announced it would no longer take Sackler money.

The move comes three days after the National Gallery of Art in London rejected a one-million-pound donation from the Sacklers. But the decision by the Guggenheim is potentially bigger. Between 2001 and 2017, the museum accepted at least $6.4 million from the Sackler family, and until recently, Mortimer D. Sackler, the patriarch of the family that owns much of Purdue Pharma, sat on the Guggenheim’s board of trustees. Pressure had been building on the Guggenheim and other prominent cultural institutions to reject money from the Sacklers. Just last month, protesters stormed the Guggenheim brandishing fake prescription pads.

The Guggenheim has been the fourth-largest recipient of Sackler donations this century. But a number of the most iconic cultural institutions around the world continue to accept the family’s money, including the American Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Opera. Here are the top 10 beneficiaries of Sackler money since 2001:

Victoria and Albert Museum: $12.7 million

New York Academy of Sciences: $11.3 million

Dia Art Foundation: $10.2 million

Guggenheim: $6.4 million

American Museum of Natural History: $5.6 million

Science Museum of London: $2.6 million

Metropolitan Opera Association: $2.1 million

Brooklyn Museum: $1 million

American Fund for the Tate Gallery: $940,000

Royal College of Art: $803,150

Note: Includes donations from the Dr. Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation, the Mortimer D. Sackler Foundation, the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Foundation, and the Richard and Beth Sackler Foundation

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate