The National Portrait Gallery

People think the Sackler family are responsible for the US opioid crisis. So should UK cultural organisations take their money?

The National Portrait Gallery is set to receive £1m this year alone

The National Portrait Gallery, a super fancy art museum in London, has been given a donation by an American family called the Sacklers.

What it means: How nice of them, right? The Sackler family are noted 'philanthropists' (they give a lot of money to charity). And it's not just the Portrait Gallery. The Courtauld Institute of Art and the University of Edinburgh could both receive big donations from the family this year.

Thing is, the Sackler family owe a lot of their wealth to the manufacturing of a drug called OxyCotin, a super strong opioid. A lot of people think that drug is responsible for the Opioid crisis in the US, which is currently killing 100 people a day. The pharmaceuticals company owned by the Sacklers was sued more than $600m in 2007 for misleading people about how addictive the drug could be.

Critics are saying the Sacklers are using these donations to 'launder' their reputation: giving loads of money away makes you look good. But the Sacklers say they've always supported the art world.

Philanthropy can play an important role in society: donations by wealthy individuals and trusts can help charities or non-profits do a lot more work than they otherwise would have been able to. But it's a minefield: the Portrait Gallery is reviewing this latest donation in line with its 'ethical policy' – it's basically weighing up whether it would do more harm than good to its own reputation to accept the funds.

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