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Purdue Pharma family profits from sale of resorts in regions plagued by opioid crisis

Skiers at Attitash resort in Barlett, N.H.Laura Tuveson/File

NORTH CONWAY, N.H. — Mitchell Yeaton is battling a wave of opioid addiction from his counseling center in New Hampshire ski country, just a short drive from two winter resorts that are engines of the local economy, Attitash and Wildcat.

In this tourist hot spot, jarring contrasts between well-to-do visitors and impoverished families shattered by addiction are part of the job, Yeaton said. But even so, a ski area deal unfolding here is rankling Yeaton and some other community leaders.

Some members of the billionaire Sackler family — the owners of Purdue Pharma, the company widely blamed for fueling America’s opioid crisis — will reap about $60 million in financial gains from the sale of 17 ski resorts in the Northeast and Midwest, according to financial disclosure filings.


Many of the ski areas in the transaction sit in places that have been hit hard by prescription narcotic abuse over the past 20 years, including those in New Hampshire, as well as hills in Vermont, the Catskills in New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

The sale of the ski resorts was finalized last week even as the family’s role in the opioid crisis is being hotly contested in courts.

With Purdue Pharma filing for bankruptcy this month as part of a massive proposed settlement of opioid litigation, the Sackler family’s business interests are under scrutiny by attorneys general across the country, some of whom have accused family members of attempting to shield their wealth.

Within the complex network of family business interests, the Sackler stake in the company that sold the ski areas, Peak Resorts, represents just one strand. Court records indicate that the wealth of Sackler family members who own Purdue is mostly tied up in private trusts and business entities domestically and overseas.

A review of public documents by The Washington Post shows that the family also has an array of equities holdings and investments, including a private company drilling petroleum wells in South Texas, and public companies in heavy industry and construction.


The Peak Resort deal offers one window into the Sackler family’s sprawling financial empire.

The Sacklers have become the public face of the addiction epidemic, with attorneys general and researchers casting Purdue Pharma as a driver of opioid abuse, especially in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

But the family says the drugs produced by Purdue Pharma represented a small fraction of those consumed as the addiction crisis gained a hold on Americans.

Two of the larger jewels in the resort deal are Attitash and Wildcat. Yeaton and some public officials say it is wrong that Richard Sackler, Purdue’s former chairman and president, and others in his immediate family would profit in a state profoundly harmed by opioid addiction. Some have suggested they share the proceeds with local communities.

‘‘Look at the devastation that has been caused here,’’ said Yeaton, the chief executive of White Horse Addiction Center, where doses of the overdose antidote Narcan are mounted on the wall for emergency access. ‘‘Don’t take the money and run.’’

Richard Sackler did not comment for this story. Family representatives declined to comment publicly.

The Sacklers’ financial interests in Peak Resorts, a publicly traded company purchased by Vail Resorts, are detailed in disclosures filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Vail paid $11 a share for Peak Resorts and valued the deal at $264 million.


Purdue Pharma, which created vast wealth for the family, filed for bankruptcy Sept. 15. It is working on a tentative settlement with more than 2,000 communities and 29 states and territories that would include the guaranteed contribution of $3 billion from the family, derived at least in part from the sale of a Sackler-owned foreign drug company.

The company this month took the unusual step of asking the bankruptcy court to block litigation directly targeting individual Sackler family members that has been filed by 21 of the 24 state attorneys general who have rejected the proposed settlement.