Tate has become the latest institution to quietly have Sackler’s name slipped off its walls in the race to sever ties with the defeated family.

Tate has joined some of the world’s best organizations and removed the Sackler name from their walls. This news comes amid the ongoing controversy over the billionaire’s family’s ties to the opioid epidemic that has so far claimed 500,000 lives.

The British foundation, which already said in 2019 that it would not accept funding from the Sackler family, quietly removed a plaque last week bearing the family’s name, which The escalator featured Sackler at the Tate Modern. A sign next to the Sackler lifts is also set to be removed and the Sackler Octagon renamed at Tate Britain in London, according to British media reports.

“Following conversations with the donor, it was mutually agreed to remove references to the Sackler family during the latest round of updates to the gallery signs,” Tate said in a statement emailed to Artnet News.

according to timesSeveral UK institutions, including Kettle’s Yard art gallery that quietly changed their signage with the Sackler name to “Gallery 1” last summer, have severed ties with the family. In many of them, Sackler’s name has been removed – or will soon be removed – from their sites. The Victoria and Albert Company, another major recipient of Sackler’s donations, said it had no plans to do so.

UK representatives for the Sackler family did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tate’s move next came from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, which removed the disgraced family name from seven venues across the institution in December after a year-long review, and written protest from some of the world’s most prominent artists, including Ai Weiwei, Anish Kapoor and Barbara Kruger, Richard Serra, and Kara Walker.

Nan Goldin protesting with Sackler Payne at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in 2019. Photo by Lottie Maher, courtesy of Sackler Payne

Artist Nan Goldin led the mobilization against Sackler, who have deep ties to the art world, in 2017. Since Goldin co-founded Sackler PAIN, the group has organized rapid protests across the United States and Europe, calling on museums to get Sackler’s name off their walls. After a few years, the pressure worked: The Louvre in Paris gave up the Sackler name in 2019, and Serpentine in London cut ties in 2021.

The National Portrait Gallery in London rejected a $1.3 million donation from the Sackler family in 2019, the first major art museum to publicly refuse funds from the family. The Sackler Trust says on its website that it has donated more than 60 million pounds ($81 million) to UK research and education charities since 2010.

The Sackler family is the owner of Purdue Pharma, which makes the opioid pain reliever OxyContin that is known to be highly addictive. Critics are trying to hold Purdue and the Sackler family responsible for the opioid crisis that led to 500,000 overdose deaths over two decades in the United States.

In December, a US federal judge struck down Purdue Pharma’s settlement agreement for thousands of lawsuits related to the opioid epidemic because the company’s bankruptcy agreement included a provision that Sackler family members would not be personally liable in civil lawsuits. Bloomberg reported that a new deal, with a larger settlement, could be in the works in the near future.

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