By Caroline Frost
London’s prestigious National Gallery, containing much of the UK’s most prized art, has removed the name of one of its biggest donors, Sackler – the disgraced pharmaceuticals dynasty.
The Times reports that staff have removed the now infamous name from the room – technically Room 34, but for 30 years known as ‘the Sackler gallery’ – where James Bond (Daniel Craig) sat down with Q (Ben Whishaw) for a covert chat in Skyfall.
The gallery houses the works of some of Britain’s most revered artists, including JMW Turner’s The Fighting Temeraire and The Hay Wain by John Constable.
The National Portrait Gallery, the British Museum, Kew Gardens, Shakespeare’s Globe theatre and the Serpentine Gallery have all made similar moves to drop the Sackler name.
This latest decision will now put pressure on London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, another beneficiary of Sackler money and the last museum in the city to bear the name in its Sackler Courtyard, opened in 2017 after the family’s gift to the Museum of £8million ($9.87m).
The Sackler family were among the capital’s most generous donors until their money – a fortune estimated at £13billion ($16bn) – became tainted by the revelations of their role in the US opioid epidemic, and the way their company’s drug OxyContin was prescribed to millions despite inside knowledge of its addictive properties – a scandal documented in the Disney+ TV series Dopesick,
The National Gallery said that the decision to remove the Sackler name from its walls had been “jointly agreed” with the Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation.
The gallery said that it was “grateful for the support it has received from the foundation to undertake its educational and collection-related programmes.”
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