Artist Nan Goldin, her P.A.I.N. group, and other opioid activists staged an action at the Louvre in Paris this afternoon, calling on the museum to remove the Sackler name from one of its wings. The activists accuse the Sackler family and their company Purdue Pharma of fueling the opioid crisis in the United States and beyond through the sale of the painkiller OxyContin.
In a pool next to the museum’s iconic glass pyramid, the group displayed a banner reading TAKE DOWN THE SACKLER NAME. The activists also staged a “die-in,” collapsing to the ground in the plaza. It was the latest in a string of protests activists have held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum, and other institutions that have received Sackler funding.
Some museums, including the Met and Guggenheim, have since said that they will no longer accept funding from the Sacklers. In March, some Sackler philanthropic groups said they would suspend giving.
“We demand that the Louvre rename the Sackler wing and commit to refusing any criminal donations in the future,” the group said in a statement shared on Instagram, referring to the museum’s Sackler Wing of Oriental Antiquities. “The opioid crisis has also hit France, through the actions of the same pharmaceutical company, Purdue Pharma—via Mundipharma, its international branch, also owned by the Sackler family.”
Sackler family members and Purdue Pharma have rejected accusations that they are to blame for the ongoing opioid-overdose epidemic. Purdue did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Purdue and some Sackler family members are currently the subject of lawsuits accusing them of misleading experts and the public about the addictiveness of OxyContin. In 2007 Purdue paid a fine of more than $600 million after pleading guilty in federal court to misleading regulators.
Asked about the protest, a spokesperson for the Louvre reiterated a statement it issued in March about its connection to the Sacklers, saying that the “Theresa and Mortimer Sackler Foundation has supported the renovation of the rooms dedicated to Persian and Levantine Art in 1996–97. Since then, there have been no other donation from the Sackler family.” (Mortimer was one of three brothers involved in building the company that became Purdue Pharma; he died in 2010 at the age of 93. The foundation could not immediately be reached for comment.)
In its statement, P.A.I.N. said, “As the most visited museum in the world, the Louvre should set an example of irreproachable ethics by disengaging from its links to this criminal philanthropy.”