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Nan Goldin, Sackler protest
photograph @lottie_maher_ via @nangoldinstudio

Nan Goldin protests at the V&A to ‘denounce’ its support of the Sacklers

‘This is not just an American problem’

Celebrated artist and addiction survivor Nan Goldin has long opposed the Sackler family and, particularly, the art institutions that support it by benefiting from its philanthropy and bearing the family name. Why? Well, in brief, the Sacklers own Purdue Pharma, an Oxycotin manufacturer linked to the opioid crisis. This is a fatal issue partly fuelled by the company’s misleading marketing practices, according to multiple lawsuits.

As part of her ongoing opposition, Goldin demonstrated at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum yesterday (November 16) alongside her activist group, PAIN (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now). 

The V&A is a particularly significant place to hold the protest. Despite the Sackler Trust freezing donations to many UK art institutions in early 2019, following protests and the rejection of funds, V&A director Tristram Hunt has openly defended their philanthropy, telling the BBC in July: “We receive very generous support from the Sackler family and we’re grateful for that.”

In an Instagram post, Goldin shows the protest, with activists lying on the ground, beating drums, and throwing bank notes into the air (representative of the “blood money” she accuses the V&A of taking).

In the caption, she also gives an idea of the extent of the pharmaceutical billionaires’ reach, saying: “41 million opioid prescriptions were written in the UK in 2017. The Sacklers have destroyed millions of lives in the US and have aggressively moved abroad.” 

“This is not the past, this is now,” she adds, directly responding to Tristram Hunt’s statement that the museum “is not denying the past” in its support of the Sacklers.

Also credited by Goldin for standing alongside the protest are local activists including Extinction Rebellion and BP or Not BP?, who staged large protests at the British Museum this year.