Sackler suspends arts donations

The Sackler Trust has suspended “all new philanthropic giving” following a growing controversy over the source of its fortune.

Last week the National Portrait Gallery turned down a £1m donation from Sackler, and Tate announced it would accept no further gifts from the charity at the present. The South London Gallery has now also returned a gift of £125,000.

The trust draws its resources from the pharmaceutical company owned by the family which had developed the opioid painkiller OxyContin, the subject of ongoing law suits because of the drug's alleged addictive nature.

In a statement issued today on behalf of the Sackler Trust, Dame Theresa Sackler (pictured) said through a trust statement that “the current press attention that legal cases in the United States is generating has created immense pressure on the scientific, medical, educational and arts institutions here in the UK, large and small, that I am so proud to support. This attention is distracting them from the important work that they do. The trustees of the Sackler Trust have taken the difficult decision to temporarily pause all new philanthropic giving, while still honouring existing commitments.”

Former Arts Council chair Sir Christopher Frayling told the BBC that the Sackler issue would causing difficulties for the UK’s museum and galleries as they try to fundraise against reducing subsidy. “It’s a very sad day for the arts” he said. “I’m worried this will lead to a moral panic in the art world”.


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