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Trial exposed marriage difficulties

Little could Charles Saatchi have known when he first came to suspect the Grillo sisters that it would result in a chain of events which ended with the innermost details of his marriage being laid bare in court.

The multi-millionaire art gallery owner and collector is not one to court publicity, shunning even his own exhibition openings.

Back then he was seemingly happily married to TV cook Nigella Lawson, making him the envy of millions of men.

But that marriage suddenly and very publicly fell apart after he was photographed clasping his wife's throat at a posh restaurant.

While he claimed to still "adore" his third wife as he gave evidence during the trial, Ms Lawson did not have such positive things to say about him.

A "brilliant, but brutal man" who subjected her to "intimate terrorism" was how Ms Lawson described him.

The food writer claimed her 10-year marriage to Mr Saatchi became so unhappy it drove her to drugs to make an "intolerable situation tolerable".

The self-styled domestic goddess also accused her ex-husband of launching a "campaign" against her in the light of this summer's events and the now-infamous photographs taken of them at Scott's restaurant in Mayfair, central London.

"He had said to me if I didn't get back to him and clear his name, he would destroy me," Ms Lawson said.

A private and guarded man, Mr Saatchi has long avoided interviews, earning himself something of a reputation as a recluse.

But although he has done his best to avoid giving too much about himself away, Isleworth Crown Court in west London heard much about his allegedly explosive temper.

During her defence, Elisabetta Grillo claimed her employer would make her feel "very little" and shout at her because her English was not that good, while personal assistant Zoe Wales also referred to his temper.

"Yes, he did have a temper and I don't think that anyone can be in any doubt he had a temper," Ms Lawson told the court.

Born in Baghdad in 1943, Mr Saatchi left Iraq for the UK with his family as a child, and went to school in London.

After working as a copywriter, he went on to found advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi with his younger brother Maurice, now Lord Saatchi.

Famous for the "Labour isn't working" campaign for the Conservative Party, along with those for British Airways and Silk Cut, the advertising agency became the biggest in the world, earning the brothers millions in the process.

Charles Saatchi has gone on to become arguably more famous for his art collecting, after making a name for himself in the industry by bringing young British artists including Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst and Marc Quinn to the forefront and making household names of them.

He has since had a number of books on art published, including Be The Worst You Can Be: Life's Too Long For Patience And Virtue and My Name Is Charles Saatchi And I Am An Artoholic.

But despite lending his name to a BBC series called School Of Saatchi in 2009, he would not appear on camera.

Further insight into his formidable character was provided in the Grillos' trial by Sharrine Scholtz, who formerly worked as a financial assistant to Mr Saatchi.

She spoke of having to work 19-hour days for the Saatchi Gallery owner before signing a compromise agreement and agreeing to "go quietly".

Asked about her working conditions during the four-and-a-half years she worked for him, Ms Scholtz said that if Mr Saatchi wanted something doing, he wanted it doing "yesterday".

But a softer side to the art dealer was apparent during his own day of evidence as he told jurors he was "utterly heartbroken at having lost Nigella".

"I absolutely adore" her," he said.

After shuffling into Court 8 with a slight stoop, the softly-spoken 70-year-old was repeatedly asked to speak up so the packed courtroom could hear him.

Each time he apologised profusely.

Unlike his ex-wife, he opted to sit down to give his evidence and, ever polite, he smiled - but looked exasperated - as he was repeatedly questioned by barristers about the incident outside Scott's in June.

Despite his vast wealth, three-times-divorced Mr Saatchi said that money did not interest him.

He announced three years ago that he planned to leave his collection to the nation.


From Belfast Telegraph