By David Ng
9:09 AM CDT, July 8, 2013
It isn't often -- or ever, actually -- that an art gallery owner becomes the subject of online and tabloid gossip for his or her love life. But then few art-world denizens have led a life as interesting as Charles Saatchi, the British advertising executive turned collector and gallery overlord.
Saatchi's glamorous lifestyle became even more glamorous when he married celebrity chef Nigella Lawson in 2003. Their 10-year-old marriage is at the heart of a publicity maelstrom involving an alleged act of spousal abuse that was caught on camera, as well as what looks like will be a high-profile divorce.
That Saatchi should be the focus of a media frenzy is more than a little ironic for a man who has cultivated a reclusive persona -- he seldom grants interviews and has a reputation for not attending his own art openings.
The lurid series of events involving Saatchi and Lawson has played out largely in the British tabloids.
On Sunday, Britain's Daily Mail published a statement attributed to Saatchi in which he says that he is divorcing Lawson. "I am sorry to announce that Nigella Lawson and I are getting divorced," the statement read. "I feel that I have clearly been a disappointment to Nigella during the last year or so, and I am disappointed that she was advised to make no public comment to explain that I abhor violence of any kind against women, and have never abused her physically in any way."
The statement refers to a series of photographs published in June in Britain's Sunday People, another tabloid, allegedly showing Saatchi with his hands around his wife's throat at a restaurant in London. Saatchi has claimed that there was no pressure applied to his wife and that the photos gave an inaccurate depiction of the incident.
Lawson, who is the second-most-famous celebrity chef right now, has appeared on the Food Network in the U.S. and has published several books. Her sensuous TV persona has made her a foodie sex symbol on both sides of the Atlantic.
Saatchi, a prominent collector, regularly ranks among the top art buyers in the world. His namesake gallery -- the Saatchi Gallery -- is one of Britain's top art destinations, located at the palatial Duke of York's Headquarters in London. As a patron, he has developed close working relationships with some of Britain's most high-profile contemporary artists, including Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst.
Saatchi's reclusive nature is well known in the art world. He is seldom seen at elbow-rubbing events for artists. However, in 2009, he published a revealing book titled "My Name is Charles Saatchi and I Am an Artoholic." He was also behind an art-themed reality-TV show that aired on the BBC.
In 2010, Saatchi announced that he would donate his gallery and millions of dollars of art to the British government to be held as a public trust.
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