American Cartel: Here’s What You Can Buy With A Billion-Dollar Opioid Fortune
NEW YORK CITY — A family that made billions of dollars from the opioid epidemic has its name honored at some of New York City’s most iconic locations, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Opera and the Brooklyn Museum.
The Sackler family members are the sole owners of Purdue Pharma, the drug manufacturer widely blamed for playing a key role in the beginnings of the opioid epidemic. Purdue operatives effectively convinced doctors that opioids are not as addictive as they thought, which allowed the company to rake in $35 billion in OxyContin sales that fueled the Sackler fortune.
The Sackler name is plastered across New York City in honor of their philanthropy, despite the family’s deep ties to the nearly 200,000 people who have died from prescription opioid overdoses since 2000.
Below are photos of what the opioid epidemic’s exploits have bought. A previous Daily Caller News Foundation investigation found that the Sacklers have never publicly funded addiction rehabilitation centers.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Met has an entire wing dedicated to the Sackler family, which most famously houses the Temple of Dendur, an ancient Egyptian temple constructed around 10 B.C. The Met has received funding from the Sacklers for decades, including nearly $200,000 just in recent years.
The Sackler Wing also houses other artifacts from ancient Egypt, such as the Kneeling Statue of Yuny.
The Sackler name appears above at least three doorways entering the wing, and also includes a plaque honoring the three brothers that created Purdue’s legacy.
The Brooklyn Museum similarly has an entire section named after a Sackler family member, called the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art.
The museum’s main exhibit in December was The Dinner Party, which features place settings honoring feminist heroes throughout history. It was recently featured on Aziz Ansari’s Netflix show, “Master of None.”
“Is it me or do all of these look like vaginas?” Ansari’s character said in the episode titled “The Dinner Party.”
The center features other feminist art as well.
Elizabeth Sackler’s uncles bought her father’s share of Purdue after he died, and she claims that she’s never profited from OxyContin sales. However, her father, Arthur Sackler, pioneered the highly-aggressive marketing campaign that Purdue used to sell OxyContin. Additionally, the museum took $600,000 from her extended family’s opioid-funded foundations.
“Arthur M. Sackler passed away in 1987, eight years before Oxycontin existed,” Cam Felix, a spokeswoman for the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, told TheDCNF in a statement. “None of his descendants have had any involvement with, nor ownership of, Purdue Pharma or benefitted from the sale of Oxycontin.”
The center also features artwork that belongs to Elizabeth’s private collection.
The Metropolitan Opera
The Sackler name appears in numerous places at the Metropolitan Opera, where the family’s various foundations donated more than $200,000 in recent years alone.
The Sackler family gave $1 million in recent years to the nonprofit that runs Central Park. At least a portion of the Sackler money was used to create exploration guides for kids, which gives children activities to do at certain parts of the park.
At the Shakespeare Garden, for example, the Sackler-funded guide prompts kids to draw the leaves and flowers they see and to count how many birds, insects and mammals they find.
The guide for the Mall and Bethesda Terrace gives children the history of this section of the park.
The Guggenheim Museum
The Guggenheim Museum, like the Met and the Brooklyn Museum, has a section named after the Sacklers, which includes several side rooms also bearing the family’s name. The Guggenheim took $300,000 from the family in recent years.
A Jackson Pollock exhibit was the main feature of the Sackler Center for Arts Education in December 2017.
The Sackler name is honored in various spots throughout the museum.
Ilene Sackler Lefcourt
TheDCNF also visited the home of Ilene Sackler Lefcourt, the daughter of one of the Sackler brothers who created Purdue’s legacy.
Her building overlooks Central Park.
Lefcourt also runs the nearby Center for Child Development.
The center shares a Manhattan address with various other entities that are run by, owned by or named after the Sacklers, including the University of Tel Aviv’s Sackler School of Medicine.
Editor’s note: This post has been updated to reflect The Guggenheim received $300,000 in recent years.
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