The Louvre museum in Paris has removed any mention of the Sacklers—who founded and own leading opiate producer Purdue Pharma—from its wing dedicated to Levantine and Persian art.

The decision underscores the controversy around the US opioid crisis, which protesters—and lawsuits—blame on the drug’s major manufacturers.

In 1996, Purdue Pharma launched OxyContin, a slow-release narcotic experts believe played a key role in triggering the epidemic.

Art institutions have already been criticised for their funding’s provenance: in 2018 and 2019, human rights and environmental activists protested British Petroleum’s sponsorship of the British Museum.

And in 2017, Tate severed its 26-year partnership with BP following prolonged protests over private companies’ use of cultural philanthropy “to advance their political interests.”

However, many argue that austerity—with governments loath to spend money on art while lowering benefits for the poorest—forces cultural institutions to rely on private funding. Rejecting private investors could push venues to raise entrance fees, discouraging low-income visitors.

Others deem such protests hypocritical when artists have long depended on wealthy and not-necessarily-ethical patrons to sponsor them.

Should the art world be more accountable about its investors?