Tate has confirmed that it is removing all references to the Sacklers from its London galleries amid ongoing legal battles over the family’s role in the US opioid epidemic.
In Tate Britain, the Sackler Octagon gallery will be renamed and the name will be removed from another gallery room. In Tate Modern, the Sackler name is being taken off signage around the escalator and lifts, as well as another gallery room.
A spokesman for the gallery said: “Following conversations with the donor, it was mutually agreed to remove references to the Sackler family during the latest round of updates to gallery signage.”
The decision comes after some members of the Sackler family, which founded the pharmaceutical companies Purdue Pharma and Mundipharma, were sued by victims and families affected by the opioid crisis for knowingly concealing the addictive nature of the painkiller OxyContin.
Purdue Pharma reached an $8bn settlement and pleaded guilty to criminal charges in 2020 over its marketing of the painkiller, which played a key role in the emergence of the epidemic that has so far claimed more than 500,000 lives in the US.
The Sackler family later won immunity from further civil lawsuits after agreeing to pay $3.4bn and relinquish control of the company, but this ruling was overturned by a federal judge in December 2021, leaving the family potentially open to future litigation.
Over the years, foundations run by members of the family have donated vast sums to cultural institutions around the world. Many of these have since distanced themselves from the Sackler name, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Dia Art Foundation in New York, London’s Serpentine Gallery and the Louvre in Paris.