Sackler WhatsApp Chats Reveal Reliance On Museums To Clear Family Name

A raftload of private Sackler family WhatsApp chats reveal the heirs of the Purdue Pharma fortune sought the help of artworld institutions in clearing the family’s tarnished name. Embroiled in a federal lawsuit that charged Purdue—maker of OxyContin, the pill that sparked America’s opioid crisis—with fraud and regulatory violations, family members suggested museums that had received hefty donations could provide “short positive statements” about their philanthropic efforts. Among those discussed were the American Museum of Natural History, the Dia Art Foundation, the Guggenheim, and MoMA (all in New York), as well as the Tate and the V&A (in London). In October, the Sacklers pleaded guilty and settled for an unprecedented $8.3B fine.


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