- Saatchi and Nigella lodged divorce papers at High Court last week
- Couple are going for a quick split in order to keep settlement private
- Experts believe the pair would have had a prenuptial agreement
Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi will be divorced within weeks after reaching a swift agreement to avoid airing their dirty laundry in public, it emerged yesterday. Documents were lodged with the High Court last week after the couple – estimated to be worth £150million – negotiated a settlement through Miss Lawson’s lawyer, Fiona Shackleton. Experts said yesterday it is likely that a pre-nuptial agreement was signed when they wed in 2003. Although the pair, who shared a £12million Chelsea home, have agreed never to publicly disclose the terms of the divorce or financial settlements, it is understood Mr Saatchi dispensed with lawyers to deal directly with Miss Shackleton in an attempt to keep his multi-million-pound art collection intact.
Yesterday, friends of Mr Saatchi said: ‘He and Nigella agreed – via Fiona Shackleton – to a speedy divorce. Fiona Shackleton is Nigella’s first cousin and Charles highly respects her. ‘He did not hire a lawyer himself and he has not even spoken to Helen Ward, whom a Sunday paper claimed he has hired. ‘Fiona prepared a full court document, every detail of every asset was listed, and an agreement was reached with no dispute. ‘They have agreed never to make public the terms of the divorce or financial settlements. Fiona lodged the divorce document with the court last Friday.’
Baroness Shackleton, who advised the Prince of Wales in his divorce and represented Sir Paul McCartney, has been nicknamed the Steel Magnolia for her charm and determination. Miss Lawson’s marriage to Mr Saatchi unravelled five weeks ago when he was photographed grabbing her throat. The former advertising tycoon initially brushed off the incident as nothing more than a ‘playful tiff’, but further images revealed Miss Lawson suffered 27 minutes of anguish and had her nose repeatedly tweaked and twisted by Mr Saatchi. At one point he even put his finger up her nose as they dined outside Scott’s restaurant in London.
Mr Saatchi later accepted a police caution for assault. Friends say Miss Lawson, 53, was willing right up until the end to give their marriage another chance and was left ‘floored’ and ‘blindsided’ by his decision to begin divorce proceedings against her. They were reportedly arguing over Miss Lawson’s son Bruno and daughter Cosima from her marriage to journalist John Diamond, who died in 2001 from throat cancer. Just days ago Mr Saatchi appeared to blame Miss Lawson for the end of the marriage, claiming he decided to divorce her after she refused to defend him in public.
He also alleged that she had held him by the throat during arguments at home. Jenny Beck, director of family law at Co-operative Legal Services, said last night: ‘It is also likely that they will have signed a pre-nuptial agreement as they both came into the marriage with considerable assets and with family. ‘They may have dusted that off and used it as a basis to help them come to a mutually acceptable financial agreement. ‘Because of the nature of the allegations they will be compromising a little more. The grounds for divorce will be the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.
‘In this case I think they may have agreed the basis for divorce and agreed the wording between them. ‘It is usual for the division of financial assets and the divorce to be done together and for the process to be concluded within months.’ Mr Saatchi’s millions were amassed from the advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi, which he founded with his brother Maurice, now Lord Saatchi, and various astute business deals. He has traded art over the years, making large profits on works by Damien Hirst and other British artists. His collection is reported to be worth £200million.
The Saatchi Gallery, which Mr Saatchi opened in 1985, has included some of the UK’s most controversial and talked-about artworks. The current exhibition includes work from Jessica Jackson Hutchins, who makes papier-maché sculptures of household objects, and a piece by Jose Lerma and Hector Madera of a giant bust of a man made from paper. Mr Saatchi also famously bought Tracey Emin’s work My Bed for £150,000, for which he got an unmade bed littered with condoms, cigarette packets and underwear. It was later installed in a dedicated room in his own home. – Dailymail