The Sackler family got richer than the Rockefellers by marketing Oxycontin in ways that kickstarted the global opioid epidemic, whose body count continues to rise — more than 200,000 dead in the US alone, which is more Americans than died in the Vietnam war.
The Sacklers aren't just as rich as a Gilded Age looter, they've also absorbed the Gilded Age tactic of fractioning off relatively piddling sums and giving them to cultural institutions as Exhibit A in the modern practice of looter reputation-laundering.
But given the incredible death toll from opioids and leaks of sealed court documents that show the Sacklers' complicity in those deaths, institutions are starting to break ties with the family, helped along by artists like opioid survivor Nan Goldin, whose massive, mediagenic protest actions inside of galleries and museums have gone a long way to showing institutions that their Sackler wing is a very bad look indeed.
The latest casualty seems to be the Louvre in Paris. Shortly after Goldin staged an action outside of the museum, the museum's board of directors suddenly remembered that they have a policy of removing endowment thank-yous after 20 years, and it had been 22 years since the Sacklers paid to have their names plastered all over the place. Now, every mention of the Sackler name has been purged from the institution, down to the smallest signs, which have been covered over with tape.
The Louvre officially says that it was just enforcing its policies and it's nothing personal about the Sacklers, but they couldn't explain why they only remembered that they had these policies after Goldin called them to account in a public, showy way.
The Louvre museum's president, Jean-Luc Martinez, told French radio station RTL that there is a 20-year limit on naming rights and the Sackler donation for the wing was in 1997. He did not explain why it had taken more than two years to remove the signs.
Martinez would also not reveal exactly when the name had been removed. However, it is thought to have been covered up when the wing was closed to visitors for a few days in the second week of July.
The move follows protests on July 1 led by the activist Nan Goldin, a former opioid addict, demanding the Sackler name be removed from the Louvre over accusations the family has profited from their company's highly addictive painkiller Oxycontin.
Louvre Removes Sackler Family Name From Its Walls [Alex Marshall/New York Times]
Louvre removes Sackler name amid controversy over opioid crisis [Sophie Gorman/France 24]
(via Naked Capitalism)