Charles Nathan Saatchi

Charles Saatchi

Charles Saatchi

Charles Nathan Saatchi (born 9 June 1943) is the co-founder with his brother Maurice Saatchi 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.

His third wife is Nigella Lucy Lawson.

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.

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“, „Watchseller“, „Watchrepairer“ in Iraqi ArabicPersian and Turkish.

  • Charles‘ brothers are David (born 1937),
  • Maurice Nathan (born 1946) and
  • Philip (born 1953).

Nathan Saatchi 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 Saatchi 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.

Charles Saatchi by Paul Harvey

Charles Saatchi von Paul Harvey

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 PresleyLittle 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.

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 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.

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

In 1969, at age twenty-six Saatchi purchased his first work of art by Sol LeWitt, a New York minimalist. He initially patronised the Lisson Gallery in Marylebone, London, who 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.

At one point the Saatchi collection contained eleven works by Donald Judd, twenty-one by Sol LeWitt, twenty-three by Anselm Kiefer, seventeen Andy Warhols and twenty-seven by Julian Schnabel.

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 Quinnto 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 (e.g., to 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.

In July 2010, Charles Saatchi donated the Saatchi Gallery and over 200 works of art to the British public.

  • 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 journalist. Together they have a daughter Phoebe.
  • Charles 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.

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. 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.

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.

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