Artists, Activists Hold Anti-Sackler Protest At The Louvre

By Victoria Kim 07/05/19

Celebrated photographer Nan Goldin led Europe's first anti-Sackler protest at the Louvre this week.

artists and activists at the Louvre

P.A.I.N. arrived in Paris over the weekend and gathered at the Louvre on Monday (July 1) to protest the Sackler family’s role in fueling the opioid crisis.

Led by photographer Nan Goldin, who organized similar rallies at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City, the P.A.I.N. activists (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now) were there to protest the Sackler family, members of whom own Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin.

Purdue Pharma is facing more than 1,600 lawsuits from American cities, counties and “nearly every U.S. state” for its alleged aggressive marketing of OxyContin and downplaying the risks of becoming dependent on the opioid painkiller.

Goldin Organizes

Goldin herself fell victim to the drug. Originally prescribed for surgery, she described becoming “addicted overnight” in a January 2018 essay published in Artforum. Since sharing her own battle with prescription painkiller abuse, Goldin launched protests against the Sacklers where they have donated millions and where their name is displayed prominently—inside major institutions like the Met and the Louvre.

By rallying at these institutions, Goldin is urging them to stop accepting money from the Sackler family and to remove their name from their walls. “Twelve rooms in the Louvre (in the Oriental Antiquities wing) are named after the Sacklers, following their donation of 10 million francs in 1997,” reads a statement by P.A.I.N. provided to Artforum.

“We do not accept that the Louvre bears the name of a family complicit in crime. We demand that the Louvre rename the Sackler wing and commit to refusing any criminal donations in the future.”

Sackler Trusts Halts New Donations

Since Goldin’s protests, the Sackler Trust has paused all new charitable giving. And the Met, the Guggenheim, the National Portrait Gallery and the Tate have agreed to stop accepting money from the family as well.

Ultimately, Goldin wants the Sacklers’ fortune to be “clawed back” by the courts, and to be re-distributed toward treatment and outreach programs, as Artforum reported.

In June, California, Maine and Hawaii joined the long list of plaintiffs suing Purdue Pharma. “The opioid crisis is devastating our communities and killing our loved ones,” said California’s attorney general Xavier Becerra. “Purdue Pharma and Dr. [Richard] Sackler started the fire and then poured gasoline on the opioid crisis with practices that were irresponsible, unconscionable and unlawful.”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr