Saatchi Website Sells Pictures of Him Throttling Nigella
How could this be a good idea? Even for art's sake?
The extraordinary saga of celebrity chef Nigella Lawson and art mogul Charles Saatchi's relationship breakdown—Lawson left Saatchi after he was photographed apparently throttling her outside of a London restaurant, an episode he later described as a "tiff"—took another turn today after it emerged that Saatchi Art, the Los Angeles–based online art store with ties to Saatchi's London-based gallery, is currently offering no fewer than seven artists’ renderings of the infamous 2013 incident.
To be fair, artists can upload their own material to the site, and work is not excluded on grounds of taste, or, it appears, controversy.
“Would it have been a better story if I had censored artists whose work might be personally disobliging?” Saatchi said in an email to the Mail on Sunday.
For sale on the site are Pete Jones’s Roy Lichtenstein–inspired painting Last Course (2014), Cambridge artist Darren Udaiyan’s Saatchi & Saatchi (2014, priced at $30,000), and Jane Kelly’s simply-named Art collector throttling a cook (2014, priced at $2,000).
As a shareholder in the site, Saatchi stands to get a cut of any work sold.
Saatchi accepted a police caution over the incident in June last year that led to the couple’s bitter public divorce battle.
Their divorce turned ugly when London court heard claims that the 53-year-old presenter of ABC TV cooking show The Taste had a voracious appetite for illicit drugs and prescription pills. In a witness statement, Saatchi said he was “completely astonished” by her alleged drug habit.
The allegations emerged ahead of the trial of Francesca and Eisabetta Grillo, Italian sisters who worked as personal assistants for the couple. They were accused - and acquitted - of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on designer clothes and first-class air travel for themselves using a credit card supplied by Saatchi and Lawson, the daughter of former Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson.