The alarming, outrage-inducing photos of Charles Saatchi grabbing Nigella Lawson by the neck in a London restaurant have turned the spotlight upon the advertising mogul, Lawson's husband of nearly 10 years.
The images, which have now gone global, show the beloved celebrity chef and judge on ABC's The Taste looking fearful in an apparent struggle to break free from Saatchi's grip. He allegedly squeezed her neck four times as bystanders watched in shock. "I have no doubt she was scared," one witness told the U.K.'s Sunday People. "It was horrific, really. She was very tearful and was constantly dabbing her eyes."
Saatchi is defending himself in a statement on Monday, saying: "There was no grip, it was a playful tiff. The pictures are horrific but give a far more drastic and violent impression of what took place. Nigella’s tears were because we both hate arguing, not because she had been hurt."
Just who is this guy? Five things to know:
1. He is the Don Draper of the U.K. Seventy-year-old Saatchi, born in Baghdad, co-founded powerhouse ad agency Saatchi and Saatchi with his brother Maurice in 1970. The siblings, who had attracted such clients as British Airways and Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Party (creating the slogan, "Labour Isn't Working"), were pushed out of the company circa 1995, afterward launching another firm, M&C Saatchi.
2. He's an art-world power player. The collector opened the Saatchi Gallery in 1985, showing works by American artists from Andy Warhol to Richard Serra and later exhibitions from buzzy, button-pushing Brits like Damien Hirst. He's also the author of the 2009 book, My Name is Charles Saatchi and I Am an Artoholic: Everything You Need to Know About Art, Ads, God and Other Mysteries and Weren't Afraid to Ask.
3. He sometimes dabbles in reality TV. Although he never made a cameo himself, Saatchi lent his powerful name to the BBC series School of Saatchi, which aired in 2009 and featured aspiring famous artists competing for the chance to show off their work in a leading gallery.
4. Lawson is Wife No. 3. Before marrying the culinary star in 2003, Saatchi was previously hitched to two Americans: fellow art enthusiast Doris Lockhart, from 1973 to 1990, and former Conde Nast ad exec Kay Hartenstein, with whom he has a daughter, from 1990 to 2001. He and Lawson reside in London's Chelsea neighborhood with her two children from her first marriage to British journalist John Diamond, who died of throat cancer in 2001.
5. He's an "exploder." So said Lawson in a 2007 interview, confessing: "I'll go quiet when he explodes, and then I am a nest of horrible festeringness." Besides the June 9 neck-grabbing incident, Saatchi was also photographed last year placing his hand over Lawson's mouth at the very same restaurant, Scott's.