Following the shocking pics showing art multimillionaire Charles Saatchi apparently choking his celebrity-chef wife, the gallerist now claims it was just a ‘playful tiff.’ Tom Sykes on the rumors that Saatchi has finally flipped.
Charles Saatchi, the multimillionaire art collector who was photographed repeatedly squeezing his wife Nigella Lawson’s throat outside a London restaurant, today described the incident as “a playful tiff.”
His remarks prompted an immediate outraged reaction in a U.K. already shocked and disgusted by the images, which are plastered all over today’s newspaper front pages. The novelist Tony Parsons tweeted, “Men who are violent towards women always have some excuse—‘playful tiff’—and there is never an excuse if you are anything resembling a man,” and the M.P. Diane Abbot commented, “Wondering what I would do if a man tried to strangle me as part of a ‘playful tiff’ #getthehellout.” Saatchi made his comments to the Evening Standard’s crime reporter, Justin Davenport. Saatchi is a columnist for the paper. The Standard is reporting that Saatchi said: “About a week ago, we were sitting outside a restaurant having an intense debate about the children, and I held Nigella’s neck repeatedly while attempting to emphasise my point. “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. “We had made up by the time we were home. The paparazzi were congregated outside our house after the story broke yesterday morning, so I told Nigella to take the kids off till the dust settled.” However, friends of the couple have told The Daily Beast that Lawson has been left distraught and terrified due to Saatchi’s constant violent bullying, and that Saatchi is jealous of Nigella’s continuing success and fame—a success that has come just as as his own star has dimmed. Sandra Horley CBE, chief executive of national domestic-violence charity Refuge, told The Daily Beast: “Perpetrators of domestic violence frequently try to minimize or deny their behavior. Domestic violence is all about power and control. It is a pattern of behavior that often involves extreme jealously and possessiveness, humiliation and intimidation.” Nigella’s spokesperson said today that there would be no comment on Saatchi’s remarks and would only say that Nigella was not at the family home, which she was pictured leaving yesterday with her son, Bruno.
The photographs have had a massive impact in the U.K., where Nigella is regarded not simply as a great writer and broadcaster but as a national treasure prized as much for her forthright common sense as her flirtatious on-screen persona. It is inconceivable to many that that Nigella could be a victim of domestic violence. More