Perhaps you've never heard of the Sacklers. An under the radar family that's done its best to keep its name solely reserved for such things as wings at the Met or the Victoria and Albert Museum or the Louvre. But I will bet you've heard of the opioid crisis news channels and papers can't stop covering (for good reason).
Brooklyn-born sons of Jewish immigrants, the three founding Sackler brothers are a textbook, American dream image of self made men. Physicians who went on to create a dynasty worth over $13 billion dollars. Imagine that?
But oh what a legacy the Sacklers have truly left. Their company, Purdue Pharmaceuticals, is far from squeaky clean, to say the least. Its billion dollar product? OxyContin. Laughably marketed as a safer alternative to morphine, the over-prescription of the highly addictive drug has led to an epidemic recently labeled a public health emergency, with a hundred and forty-five Americans currently dying every day from opioid overdoses.
In 2007, the company agreed to pay $600 million in fines and other damages to settle the charge that they had misled doctors and patients in claiming that their drug’s long-acting quality made it less likely to be abused than traditional narcotics. And as you can imagine, the lawsuits didn't stopped there, forcing the company to recently halve its sales force and completely restructure its product marketing.
Sure, while no member of the Sackler family has been brought to court or held personally liable for all of the harm that's been caused, you've got to wonder who are those that are still benefiting from such a shady operation? According to the New Yorker, "although the Sackler name can be found on dozens of buildings, Purdue’s Web site scarcely mentions the family, and a list of the company’s board of directors fails to include eight family members, from three generations, who serve in that capacity." Odd, no?
A family intent on rebranding itself, and one that enjoys the fruits of its philanthropy - after donating the money for the Temple of Dendur wing at the Met, Mortimer used the space for a lavish birthday party, featuring a cake in the shape of the Great Sphinx wearing the face of the birthday boy - all of this shit they've gifted over the years is pretty great. Not denying that. But who the fuck knew it was at that cost? And so, a look at the most visually prominent sect of the Sackler tribe - the women furthering the good family name through their devoted philanthropic work, funded by a fortune made at the expense of millions of lives.
[Photo via Getty]