9 June 1943 |
|Occupation||Advertising executive, art collector and creative director|
|Known for||Saatchi Gallery
Saatchi & Saatchi
|Spouse(s)||Doris Lockhart (m. 1973–1990)
Kay Hartenstein (m. 1990–2001)
Nigella Lawson (m. 2003)
Charles Saatchi (born 9 June 1943) is the co-founder with his brother Maurice of the global advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi, and led that business – the world's largest advertising agency in the 1980s – until they were forced out in 1995. In the same year the Saatchi brothers formed a new agency called M&C Saatchi. 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.
Early life 
Charles Saatchi is the second of four sons born to Nathan Saatchi and Daisy Ezer, a wealthy Iraqi Jewish family in Baghdad, Iraq. The name "Saatchi" means "watchmaker" in Iraqi Arabic, Persian and Turkish. Charles' brothers are David (born 1937), Maurice Nathan (born 1946) and Philip (born 1953). Nathan was a successful textile merchant and in 1947, he pre-empted a flight that tens of thousands of Iraqi Jews would soon make to avoid persecution and relocated his family to Finchley, London. Nathan purchased two textile mills in north London and after a time re-built a thriving business. Eventually the family would settle into a house with eight bedrooms on Hampstead Lane in Highgate.
Saatchi attended Christ's College, a secondary school in North London. 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. 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.
Advertising career 
In his first advertising role as a copywriter in the London office of Benton & Bowles (where he met his future wife Doris Lockhart) Saatchi paired up with Art director Ross Cramer. They worked as a team at Collett Dickenson Pearce and John Collins & Partners before leaving in 1967 to open a creative consultancy CramerSaatchi.
Unusual for a creative consultancy, they took on employees – John Hegarty was their first, followed by Jeremy Sinclair, who as of 2011 still retains a senior role at M&C Saatchi. In addition to consulting to ad agencies they also took on some clients direct.
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.
In 1969, at age twenty-six, Saatchi purchased his first work of art by Sol LeWitt, a New York minimalist. Saatchi initially patronised the Lisson Gallery in Marylebone, London, which specialised in minimalist works; he purchased an entire show by Robert Mangold. On a visit to Paris in 1973 with his first wife, Doris Lockhart, he purchased a realist work by the British artist David Hepher, a detailed realist depiction of suburban houses. In the early 1980s, Doris and Saatchi purchased a 30,000 sq ft (2,800 m2) cement-floored and steel-girded warehouse at 98A Boundary Road in the residential London suburb of St. John's Wood. The Saatchi Gallery was opened to the public in February 1985, to exhibit the art Saatchi had collected.
His taste has mutated from "School of London", through American abstraction and minimalism, to the Young British Artists, whose work he first saw at the Freeze exhibition. Any purchase by Charles Saatchi made news. In 1991, he turned his back on the New York art world with two major acquisitions by new British artists. He was instrumental in 1992 in launching the career of Damien Hirst and in bringing Marc Quinn to the forefront of the art world. 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 (for example, to the families of children murdered by Myra Hindley) and consolidating the position of the YBAs.
In 2009, he published the book My Name Is Charles Saatchi And I Am An Artoholic. 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. From 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.
Personal life 
Saatchi married his first wife Doris Lockhart in 1973 – they had first met in 1965 when she was a copy group head above him at Benton & Bowles. She was a native of Memphis, Tennessee and Goldman describes her as "a sophisticated woman who spoke several languages, knew a great deal about art and wine and who had graduated from Smith College and the Sorbonne". She became known during their marriage as an art and design journalist, with particular knowledge of minimalism. They lived together from 1967, married in 1973 and divorced in 1990.
Saatchi's second wife was Kay Hartenstein (married from 1990 to 2001), also American from Little Rock, Arkansas who was a Condé Nast advertising executive. Together they have a daughter Phoebe.
Saatchi married celebrity cook Nigella Lawson – his third wife – in 2003. In January 2011, Saatchi and Lawson moved from their former home in Belgravia to their new house in Chelsea, London. Their new home is a double fronted 7 bedroom villa converted from its former use as a warehouse and conveniently situated only 200 metres from Saatchi's contemporary art gallery in King's Road, London. They live with her two children Cosima and Bruno, as well as Phoebe.
He is a notorious recluse, even hiding from clients when they visited his agency's offices, and, as of February 2009, has only ever granted two newspaper interviews, though he has appeared on Nigella Lawson's television shows as a background guest. He does not attend his own exhibition openings; 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." Both Hartenstein and Goldman refer to Saatchi's reclusiveness/shyness as a feint or "his shtick" affected to allow him to accept (or more often decline) invitations and social requests as he chooses.
Cultural references 
- "Charles Saatchi". Britannica Online Encyclopedia. Retrieved 24 November 2009.
- Alkalesi, Yasin M. (October 2006). "Nouns of Occupations with Suffixes -chi and -chiyya". Modern Iraqi Arabic: A Textbook. Georgetown University Press. ISBN 978-1-58901-130-4.
- Goldman – Conflicting Accounts
- Thomson, Alice; Rachel Sylvester (28 February 2009). "The Saturday interview: Charles Saatchi". London: Times Online. Retrieved 24 November 2009.
- Jones, Chris (12 July 2002). "Charles Saatchi: Artful adman". BBC News. Retrieved 24 November 2009.
- Gleadell, Colin (31 December 2001). "Adventures in Saatchiland". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 25 November 2009.
- ISBN 0-7148-5747-5
- Hewage, Tim. "Saatchi Donates Art Collection To Public", Sky News, 1 July 2010.
- Dorment, Richard (1 July 2010). "Charles Saatchi's donation". The Daily Telegraph (London).
- Darwent, Charles (18 October 1998). "Pieces from a confessional". London: The Independent. Retrieved 24 November 2009.
- Heller Anderson, Susan (13 August 1990). "Chronicle". The New York Times (New York ed.) (The New York Times). p. B6. Retrieved 26 February 2010.
- Dougary, Ginny (26 July 2008). "Kay Saatchi on life after Charles Saatchi". The Times (London: Times Newspapers). Retrieved 26 February 2010.
- Hilton, Beth. Lawson 'won't leave children a penny'. Digital Spy, 2008-01-29. Retrieved on 2008-01-31.
- "Readers' questions". The Sunday Telegraph. Retrieved 24 November 2009.
- "Rich List 2009". London: Times Online. 2009. Retrieved 26 November 2009.
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
- Goldman, Kevin Conflicting Accounts – The Creation & Crash of the Saatchi & Saatchi Empire, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1997. ISBN 0-684-83553-3
- The Saatchi Gallery
- Works by or about Charles Saatchi in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Charles Saatchi collected news and commentary at The New York Times
- Guardian Interview, 6 September 2006
- Saatchi answers reader's questions on Times Online, 4 April 2010
- Saatchi Says He’ll Give Britain His Gallery and Over $37 Million in Art, The New York Times, 1 July 2010