For followers of celebrity art news, the recent trials of Charles Saatchi and his recently divorced wife Nigella Lawson have been nothing short of astonishing. In recent court proceedings surrounding celebrity chef Lawson and the art-world behemoth dealer and gallerist Saatchi, more and more details have emerged about the pair’s eccentric lifestyle and habits.
The trials initiated because of accusations of fraud on behalf of two aides of the celebrity couple, Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo. The sister assistants stood accused of swindling the couple of £685,000, or about $1.1 million. They were both cleared of that crime just six days ago.
And yet testimony from the case revealed just how idiosyncratic Saatchi had become over the years. Among the bullet points recently exposed about the Iraq-born adman include:
- He owns 12 identical Paul Smith suits, one of which he wears daily, paired with one of 25 white shirts from Turnbull & Asser, who make shirts for Prince Charles.
- He made his assistants buy 60 tubes of his preferred hair gel so he could always have some within reach.
- He had the sisters buy 12 separate Apple TV remotes so he would never be without one.
- He eats at only two restaurants in all of England, metronomically.
- He made the sisters remove all evidence of cooking from his kitchen because he didn’t care for Lawson’s cooking.
- He made assistants buy his books in bulk in order to watch his sales rise.
- He and Lawson are in a custody battle over a £10,000 stuffed bulldog named Narles, a combination of their names.
- Earlier in December, Saatchi was revealed in court to have kept massive bundles of cash throughout his house, because he hated credit cards just that much.
- He demanded the heat always be turned on in his house, even in the summer. He also left every light in the house on.
And these eccentricities are of the less-troublesome of Saatchi’s behavior, according to a British criminologist who has been following the travails. David Wilson, the head of Birmingham City University’s Institute of Criminology, penned an article reducing Saatchi to a petulant child of his own design, obsessed with his own whims and dangerously volatile were he not to get his way.
“Once again, the urge for wreckage is profoundly childish, as if he were in a state of permanent, hysterical rebellion. It is a mentality that stems from the feeling of always being an outsider, feeding a deep-seated resentment,” Wilson, wrote in the Daily Mail.
Saatchi is arguably one of the most important art dealers of our age. He’s credited with popularizing the rise of the Young British Artists in the early nineties, thanks in part to his clout derived from his earlier acquisitions. “At one point, the renowned gallerist and collector owned,” Hana Cohn wrote on this website, “11 works by Donald Judd, 21 by Sol LeWitt, 17 by Andy Warhol, 27 by Julian Schnabel, and 23 by Anselm Kiefer.”