A stately New York townhouse on the Upper East Side recently exchanged hands for $38 million in an off-market sale with no brokers, no personal names and no fanfare. And it’s no wonder. The home was owned by Mortimer D.A. Sackler, an embattled member of the family that owns Purdue Pharma — a pharmaceutical company accused in nearly every state across the U.S., of misleading the public about the addictive properties of OxyContin, a drug at the center of the opioid crisis.
Sackler family members have reportedly fled New York for Florida en masse to escape the controversy, and the family has been offloading homes — perhaps in fear of an asset seizure. As part of an expanded lawsuit against the Sacklers, N.Y.’s attorney general said it had tracked about $1 billion in wire transfers made by the family, with many going to Swiss bank accounts. The A.G.’s office also alleged that Sackler failed to disclose his ownership of the just-sold, $38 million townhouse in litigation, NBC reported. In addition to the thousands of lawsuits aimed at Purdue itself, 26 states have named the Sacklers individually.
The speedy townhouse buyer is billionaire hedge fund magnate Israel Englander, a longtime member of N.Y. society royalty. And it’s not difficult to see how the Sacklers and Englanders would know one another — the Sacklers have been mainstays on the New York social scene. Family members David and Joss are big patrons of the arts and donors to major museums (Brooklyn, Yale, Harvard) including the Met, where they have a wing named after them. However, the scandal behind their lawsuits has damaged these relationships. The Met announced in May that it would stop accepting gifts from the Sacklers. Tufts University — associated with the Sackler family for 40 years — have removed all mention of their name from school buildings and programs because of the “human toll of the opioid epidemic” sparked by OxyContin. The Tate Modern in London and the Guggenheim in New York have also made similar announcements.
Englander, like the Sacklers, has been active in Manhattan real estate. The founder of Millennium Management is reportedly worth $6 billion. In 2014 he spent $71.2 million on a duplex — then the city’s most expensive co-op — at 740 Park Avenue. Then, four years later, his wife Caryl then bought a $60 million condo at 432 Park Ave.
Before their legal woes, the Sacklers had spent some of their $13 billion dollar fortune on real estate. In 2018, a Bel Air estate transferred for $22.5 million in an all-cash deal which Dirt traced back to the Sackler family. A few months prior to that, David Sackler purchased a Pacific Palisades pad for $10.8 million. A Dirt story later revealed several of the luxury homes the Sacklers own around the country.
In December, the family offered to contribute at least $3 billion in cash as part of a settlement to resolve the thousands of lawsuits against Purdue. However, 24 states including New York and Massachusetts, rejected the offer, wanting more money. A 350-page report prepared by AlixPartners, a consulting firm that Purdue hired to help it in restructuring in light of its bankruptcy, was criticized for not answering the investigator’s one key question: How much are the Sacklers worth and where is their money located?
They might be waiting a long time to find out.