Saatchi Art Sells Paintings of Charles Saatchi Choking Nigella Lawson

Art collector throttling a cook could be yours for $2,000.

Jane Kelly, Art collector throttling a cook (2014).
Courtesy the artist, Saatchi Art.

The controversy that collector Charles Saatchi would rather forget has been immortalized as art. Saatchi Art, the Los Angeles–based online art store with ties to his London-based gallery, is currently offering no fewer than seven artists’ renderings of the infamous 2013 incident in which Saatchi choked his now ex-wife, celebrity chef Nigella Lawson, on the terrace at the Mayfair fish restaurant Scott’s.

“Would it have been a better story if I had censored artists whose work might be personally disobliging?” Saatchi asked the Mail on Sunday.

Among the risqué renditions are London-based artist Pete Jones’s Roy Lichtenstein–inspired painting Last Course (2014), Cambridge artist Darren Udaiyan’s Vincent van Gogh-meets-Homer Simpson mashup Saatchi & Saatchi (2014, priced at $30,000), and Jane Kelly’s arresting Art collector throttling a cook (2014, priced at $2,000).


Darren Udaiyan, Saatchi & Saatchi.
Courtesy the artist, Saatchi Art.

“It’s not really controversial,” Udaiyan said. “Saatchi is strangling Nigella but it’s also about him squeezing the art market. . . . It works on many levels. It’s a comment on the art market and how people control it.”

The site works on a submission basis, with a community of more than 40,000 artists uploading their works and receiving 70 percent of the profits from any sale, while the site receives 30 percent. Not surprisingly, sales of the works have elicited strong reactions, with the anti-domestic violence organization Women’s Aid deeming the artworks’ inclusion on Saatchi Art “extremely insensitive.”

“Saatchi Art does not believe in censorship unless the material is pornographic or incites racial hatred,” added Saatchi Art’s chief curator, Rebecca Wilson.

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