Having had much cause to mention Charles Saatchi in my Guardian column over the past five years, I was pleased when this most secretive of men finally agreed to meet me around the time of the opening of his new private museum. I found, more to other people's surprise than my own, that he was a nice enough chap, a Guardian reader no less. Youthful, remarkably shy for a man in his profession, he was clearly in love with his collection in the way that little boys are in love with their train sets. It is the largest and most famous collection of contemporary art in Britain, and he adds to it obsessively, sometimes buying up entire exhibitions. It is so large that he can only hang a section of it at a time. He himself had supervised the hanging and was now clucking around the opening show wondering if perhaps the galvanised iron relief by Donald Judd wouldn't have looked better over there, where the green lacquered one was. The two things that struck me most forcefully about him were his innocence - he had, after all, agreed to speak to me 'off the record' despite all the horrible innuendoes I had made about him, and his ordinariness, in my Guardian column. A boyish 41-year-old, casually smart in a floppy double-breasted suit of indeterminate adman brown, he didn't look like the devil at all and kept asking me if I minded when he stubbed his cigarettes out in my saucer. Of course I minded. But I wasn't about to say so, not there, not then.
LRB 21 March 1985 | PDF Download