Members of Sackler family ‘complained they were falling behind financially’

The email in question dates back to 2017 when Mortimer (right), the son of Mortimer Sackler Sr, who co-founded Purdue Pharma, requested a $10million loan because he was ‘falling significantly behind financially’

Members of the billionaire Sackler family, who own OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma, reportedly complained in emails about ‘falling behind financially’ after being blamed for fueling the opioid crisis in the US. 

Purdue filed for bankruptcy back in September 2019 in the face of more than 2,900 lawsuits accusing the company of fueling the national opioid crisis through deceptive marketing. 

Last month, the Sackler family agreed to pay nearly $4.3billion to resolve the lawsuits.

Now, in his new book Empire of Pain, Patrick Radden Keefe has revealed details from a private email reportedly sent by Mortimer David Alfons Sackler, according to The Daily Beast.

The email in question dates back to 2017 when Mortimer, the son of Mortimer Sackler Sr, who co-founded Purdue Pharma with his two brothers, requested a $10million loan and ‘a possible additional $10 million…MAX’ from the family trust. 

According to the Daily Beast, the younger Mortimer wrote: ‘Start off with saying I am not happy. I am falling significantly behind financially.’

The email is said to have been sent to Kerry Sulkowicz, a psychiatrist and ‘leadership confidant’.

Mortimer explained that he was ready to sell ‘artworks, jewelry, stock positions’ to catch up, but noted it wouldn’t be enough to get him into the black. 

‘I have been working for years on Purdue at what I consider to be a considerably discounted value relative to what MY TIME IS WORTH. I am LOSING money by working in the pharma business,’ he reportedly wrote. 

He also apparently wanted to keep his request for financial assistance a secret. 

Mortimer wrote that the funds could be ‘reported in the trust accounts as loan/cash flow assistance to family members but not be specific… I don’t want to hear my siblings’ opinion on this and I don’t need more stress for this’. 

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The Sacklers are one of the wealthiest families in the US. Pictured above is some of the Sackler family: Dr Richard Sackler, standing second from left and Jonathan Sackler standing second from right. Seated is co-founder Raymond and his wife Beverly Sackler

He continued: ‘I need to have this resolved… This needs to happen, the only question is how much DRAMA will be needed for this to happen.’

Mortimer then shared that his father, who died in 2010, had been ‘more than willing to help me’.

Keefe also noted another email dated for June 2015 that was reportedly sent by David Sackler, the grandson of co-founder Raymond Sackler. In the email that was sent to his parents, David is said to have complained that as the assistant to his father, Richard, he had worked hard to ‘manage the family fortune’ and ‘make the family richer’.

David griped that it was ‘quite literally the hardest job in the world’ to work for his dad who had ‘little understanding of what I do’.

According to the Daily Beast, the email was sent after David’s father wouldn’t help him get a new apartment. 

In addition to the complaints about money, Keefe revealed that Mortimer also ranted in a February 2019 email that prescription opioids ‘are NOT the CAUSE of drug abuse, addiction, or the so called “opioid crisis”‘.

‘I also don’t think we should use the term “opioid crisis” or even “opioid addiction crisis” in our messaging,’ he added.   

A $4.3billion payment from the members of the Sackler family who are involved with Purdue is part of a larger restructuring plan filed by Purdue which intends to get the Connecticut-based pharmaceutical giant out of bankruptcy. 

Purdue’s $10billion plan to emerge from bankruptcy calls for it to be transformed into an entity that would see the Sacklers relinquish control of the company and steer revenue directly to plaintiffs. 

The $4.3billion contribution from members of the Sackler family, who have denied any wrongdoing, would see them freed from opioid-related litigation.   

Purdue’s(file image) $10billion plan to emerge from bankruptcy calls for it to be transformed into an entity that would see the Sacklers relinquish control of the company and steer revenue directly to plaintiffs


Purdue Pharma, which is run by some members of the wealthy Sackler family, has made tens of billions on opioid sales. Here is a breakdown of who the Sacklers are, including those who have and haven’t been involved in Purdue Pharma: 


Arthur, a doctor and psychiatrist, founded a research laboratory in 1938, but Arthur’s real genius was in marketing and he leveraged it to sell a number of medications, including the anti-anxiety drug, Valium.

He and his younger brothers Mortimer and Raymond owned a small pharma company called Purdue Frederick that they purchased in 1952. That company produced betadine and earwax.

Arthur remained a relatively silent partner in the old Purdue and died in 1987 before it became the company we know it as today.

He never saw any of Purdue’s OxyContin profits. 

He donated the funds to open a number of medical education programs, libraries and museums.

Arthur was inducted into the Medical Marketing Hall of Fame upon his death in 1987. 

After his death in 1987, his brothers bought Arthur’s portion of the company.

One of his four children, daughter Elizabeth, has largely taken over his philanthropy work.

Arthur and his heirs have had no involvement in Purdue Pharma or with OxyContin.   


Mortimer was an American physician and psychiatrist.

He and his brothers, the older Arthur and the younger Raymond published prolific medical research before buying a number of pharmaceutical companies, including, in 1952, Purdue Frederick.

After Arthur’s death Mortimer and Raymond bought out his descendants’ share of Purdue Frederick, and in 1991 they created the company that would become a pain management giant we now know, Purdue Pharma.

Mortimer became a lavish arts patron, known for equally extravagant donations and parties, beginning in the 1970s.

He died in 2010.


Raymond was a doctor like his older brothers, and the three were partners in all things until each of their deaths.   

Together with Mortimer, Raymond found success with their opioid painkiller, OxyContin, which became the Purdue Pharma’s signature drug. 

Raymond was milder and more private than his brother, Mortimer.

Raymond had two children, Richard and Jonathan, before his death last year. 


Mortimer’s eldest daughter with his first wife.   

She was listed as a director of Purdue’s sister company, UK-based Napp Pharamaceutical Holdings, as of December 2016. 

She lives in an apartment in an iconic Upper West Side which she owns.

Its total value is estimated to be more than $122million. 


Kathe is one of the directors of Napp, a UK-based company which also sold OxyContin. 

She owns two suburban properties in Connecticut which are separated by another owned by someone else and she lives in an Upper East Side townhouse with her wife, Susan Shack Sackler.

The house was owned by both Raymond and Mortimer. Their children share it. 

Kathe and Ilene had a brother, Robert, is deceased. 


Raymond’s two son by wife Beverly. 

Jonathan formerly lived with his wife in Greenwich, Connecticut, in a property next to his mother’s. 

Richard’s former family home is not far away in neighboring Stamford. 

They have a cancer research center named after them at Yale and have both held positions at Purdue.


Richard Sackler followed in his father’s footsteps, getting his medical degree at New York University School of Medicine. 

He came to Purdue after medical school, leading the research and development that ultimately produced the extended release form of OxyContin that would elevate the family’s fortune to previously unfathomable. 

He became president of Purdue in 1991, pioneering marketing campaigns that enticed droves of medical professionals to buy Purdue’s opioid.

Richard became co-chairman in 2003, by which point $1.6 billion in OxyContin had been sold.  

His marketing schemes sparked suspicion, and in 2015, Richard was deposed before his company paid out a $24 million settlement. 

The company appealed in 2017, but the case has not moved forward. 


Arthur’s daughter has publicly and persistently attempted to distance herself from branch of her family that has profited from OxyContin. 

Elizabeth is a licensed psychiatrist and well-known philanthropist. 

She is the founder of an eponymous Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum in New York. 

She has previously expressed disgrace for her uncles’ business.

 Elizabeth has previously told ‘I, nor my siblings, nor my children have ever owned or benefited from Purdue Pharma or OxyContin or oxycodone. 

‘It’s another branch of the family.’


 Theresa, 69, owns a $45million Upper East Side apartment building but lives mostly in the UK on a 10-acre estate in the Berkshire countryside. 

She is known in the UK as Dame Theresa Sackler, a title she was awarded for her sustained philanthropy and support of the arts.  

Theresa is more visible than her sister-in-law.  

Beverly, 94, is Raymond’s widow. She lives on a Greenwich, Connecticut waterfront estate which has an estimated land and property value of almost $50million. She also owns a 17-floor Fifth Avenue building in Manhattan. 

When her husband was still alive, they donated the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Institute for Biological, Physical and Engineering Sciences at Yale. It now employs 50 people across 20 departments. 


Mortimer the only son of founding brother Mortimer, Mortimer II’s mother is Gertraud Wimmer, Mortimer’s second wife. 

Mortimer David owns a luxury condo building in Boston and lives in New York City with his 42-year-old wife Jacqueline.

The couple are a regular fixture on the Manhattan social circuit. 


David is intensely private but his wife, Joss, is not. 

She runs the members-only women’s social club, LBV. 

Among its events are group workouts at the model haven gym Dog Pound and talks such as ‘how to have the money talk with your kids.’ 





More than 470,000 deaths in the US since 2000 have been linked to opioids, including both prescription drugs and illegal ones such as heroin and fentanyl. 

The US topped 50,000 opioid-related overdose deaths for the first time in 2019 and several states last year reported a record pace of overdose deaths due to all drugs.  

The plan, which marks the company’s formal offer to settle the lawsuits, sets up trusts that would indirectly control the new entity to distribute money to states, local governments and tribal organizations for opioid abatement programs. 

It also establishes trusts to pay out to private entities and individuals that have brought opioid-related lawsuits against Purdue, including hospitals, insurance carriers and legal guardians of children born with addiction-related issues.

In its proposal, the company said the Sackler family members would contribute nearly $4.3billion over a decade, the company would kick in $500million upfront and its sales would generate another $1billion through the end of 2024.

The company says additional money would come from insurance claims.

Individual victims and their families would share $700million to $750million over time.

With nearly 135,000 such claims, that would work out to average payments under $5,600. Personal injury payments are expected to range from $3,500 to $48,000. 

The new entity will be overseen by a board comprising independent managers selected by states and local governments in consultation with Purdue and its unsecured creditors’ committee, according to its plan. 

The Sacklers will not be part of that selection process.

Purdue said the new entity will not promote opioid products to healthcare providers.

The Sacklers are one of the wealthiest families in the world but the true size of the family’s fortune is unclear. 

An earlier court filing said family members received transfers of $12 billion to $13 billion from Purdue over the years, though a lawyer said much of that went to taxes or was reinvested in the company. 

Raymond and Mortimer Sackler founded Purdue in 1991. They, along with their children, profited from the development of OxyContin.

Other members of the Sackler family – including Arthur Sackler, who died in 1987, and his children – are not involved with Purdue. 

Until the opioid crisis became a national talking point, members of the Sackler family lived a largely unaffected life. As the issue plagued them, they had their name – which once carried them through high society around the world – stripped from museums and school scholarships.  

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