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Charles Saatchi
Born 9 June 1943(1943-06-09)
Baghdad, Iraq
Nationality British[1]
Occupation Advertising executive and art collector
Known for Saatchi Gallery
Saatchi & Saatchi

Charles Saatchi (born 9 June 1943) (Arabic: تشارلز ساعاتجي‎) was the co-founder with his brother Maurice of the global advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi, leading the world's largest advertising agency until they were forced out in 1995. In the same year the Saatchi brothers formed a new agency called M&C Saatchi.

Many large clients followed, and their new agency quickly overtook their former agency in Britain's top ten. Charles is also known worldwide as an art collector and owner of the Saatchi Gallery, and in particular for his sponsorship of the Young British Artists (YBAs), including Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin.



Charles Saatchi was born into a wealthy Iraqi Jewish family in Baghdad, Iraq. In 1947, the family fled persecution and moved to Finchley,[2] London.[3] There Saatchi attended Christ's College, a secondary school in North London.[2] During this time he developed an obsession with U.S. pop culture, including the music of Elvis Presley, Little Richard and Chuck Berry. He also manifested an enthusiasm for collections, from cigarette cards and jukeboxes to Superman comics and nudist magazines.[2] He has described as "life changing" the experience of viewing a Jackson Pollock painting at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He then progressed to study at the London College of Communication.[4]

Nigella Lawson, Saatchi's wife

In 1970 he started the advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi with his brother Maurice; which by 1986 had grown to be the largest agency in the world, with over 600 offices. Successful campaigns in the UK included Silk Cut cigarettes and the promotion of the Conservative Party led by Margaret Thatcher through the slogan "Labour Isn't Working". Eventually, he and his brother Maurice departed the agency and together founded the rival M&C Saatchi agency, taking many of their clients with them, including the huge British Airways advertising account.[3]

In the Sunday Times Rich List 2009 ranking of the wealthiest people in the UK he was grouped with his brother Maurice and placed 438th with an estimated joint fortune of £120million.[5]

He is a notorious recluse, even hiding from clients when they visited his agency's offices,[2] and, as of February 2009, has only ever granted two newspaper interviews.[2][6] He does not attend to his own openings either. When asked why by the Sunday Telegraph, he replied: "I don't go to other people's openings, so I extend the same courtesy to my own."[6]

A fervent collector of modern art, Saatchi opened the Saatchi Gallery in London in 1985, where he exhibits the art he has collected over the years.[1][3]

His first wife, Doris Lockhart (married from 1973 to 1990)[7], became known during their marriage as an art and design journalist, with particular knowledge of minimalism;[7] his second, Kay Hartenstein (married from 1990[8] to 2001[9]), was a Condé Nast journalist. He married celebrity cook Nigella Lawson (his third wife) in 2003; they live in London with her two children Cosima and Bruno.[10]

In 2009 he published the book My Name Is Charles Saatchi And I Am An Artoholic.[11] Subtitled "Everything You Need To Know About Art, Ads, Life, God And Other Mysteries And Weren't Afraid To Ask", it presents Saatchi's answers to a number of questions submitted by members of the public and art fraternity.

In November to December 2009 he had a television programme on the BBC called School of Saatchi in which he gave young aspiring artists an opportunity to showcase their work. He made no appearance in the programme, only communicating through an assistant.


The Saatchi Gallery's new premises in Chelsea, which opened in October 2008.

He bought his first painting in 1973 on a visit to Paris with his first wife, Doris Lockhart. This was a realist work by David Hepher, a British artist, and was a detailed realist depiction of suburban houses. He established the Saatchi Gallery in 1985 at Boundary Road in St. John's Wood, London. His taste has mutated from "School of London", through American abstraction and minimalism, to the YBAs, whose work he first saw at the Freeze exhibition. His renown as a patron peaked in 1997 when part of his collection was shown at the Royal Academy as the exhibition Sensation, which travelled to Berlin and New York causing headlines and much offence (e.g., to families of children murdered by Myra Hindley) and consolidating the position of the YBAs.

Cultural references

Charles Saatchi by Paul Harvey

Artists including John Keane and Paul Harvey have painted pictures of Saatchi.


  1. ^ a b "Charles Saatchi". Britannica Online Encyclopedia. Retrieved 24 November 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Thomson, Alice; Rachel Sylvester (2009-02-28). "The Saturday interview: Charles Saatchi". Times Online. Retrieved 24 November 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c Jones, Chris (2002-07-12). "Charles Saatchi: Artful adman". BBC News. Retrieved 24 November 2009. 
  4. ^ Gleadell, Colin (2001-12-31). "Adventures in Saatchiland". Telegraph. Retrieved 25 November 2009. 
  5. ^ "Rich List 2009". Times Online. 2009. Retrieved 26 November 2009. 
  6. ^ a b "Readers' questions". The Sunday Telegraph. Retrieved 24 November 2009. 
  7. ^ a b Darwent, Charles (1998-10-18). "Pieces from a confessional". The Independant. Retrieved 24 November 2009. 
  8. ^ Heller Anderson, Susan (1990-08-13). "Chronicle". The New York Times (The New York Times): p. B6. Retrieved 26 February 2010. 
  9. ^ Dougary, Ginny (2008-07-26). "Kay Saatchi on life after Charles Saatchi". The Times. Times Newspapers. Retrieved 26 February 2010. 
  10. ^ Hilton, Beth. Lawson 'won't leave children a penny'. Digital Spy, 2008-01-29. Retrieved on 2008-01-31.
  11. ^ ISBN 0-7148574-7-5

Further reading

  • Hatton, Rita and Walker, John A. Supercollector: A Critique of Charles Saatchi, Institute of Artology, 2005. ISBN 0-9545702-2-7
  • Kent, Sarah. Shark Infested Waters: The Saatchi Collection of British Art in the 90s, Philip Wilson Publishers Ltd, 2003. ISBN 0-85667-584-9

External links



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