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My Name Is Charles Saatchi and I Am An Artoholic

by Anon

The book is presented as a long series of questions and answers - supposedly the questions asked by interviewers over the years - alternating between his background and his attitude to art and artists. It's a very neat tutorial on how to answer intrusive interview questions.

Do you wash your hands after you have had a wee? I have an acute sense of hygiene so I wash my hands before I have a wee.

Do you want to be a celebrity? I'm answering these questions, so I must be desperate for something, but it certainly isn't celebrity.

The concerns of an advertising executive centre upon novelty, immediacy of impact, and relevance to the target market. Many would say that these are the qualities that have characterised your collection. The concerns of the serious collector centre upon quality, the capacity to transcend time, high levels of skill and historical significance. To what degree do you feel these apparently divergent criteria to be in conflict? The 'adman' theory is very appealing, very popular with commentators. But the snobbery of those who think an interest in art is the province of gentle souls of rarefies sensibility never fails to entertain. Lord forbid that anyone in 'trade' should enter the hallowed portals of the aesthete. I liked working in advertising, but I don't believe my taste in art, such as it is, was formed by TV commercials. And I don't feel particularly conflicted enjoying a Mantegna one day, a Carl Andre the next day and a student work the next.

Why do overseas museums have better collections of Britart than the Tate? Because the Tate curators didn't know what they were looking at in the 1990's, when even the piddliest budget would have bought you many great works. But I'm no better. I regularly find myself waking up to great art I passed by or simply ignored.

Looking ahead; in 100 years time, how do you think British art of the early 21st century will be regarded? Who are the great artists who will pass the test of time? General art books dated 2105 will be as brutal about editing the late 20th century as they are about almost all other centuries. Every artist other than Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Donald Judd and Damien Hirst will be a footnote.

Is it not just vulgar to spend ten times the value of an artwork just to make sure you get your hands on it? It is very vulgar, and I wish I had a more genteel and cheaper way of getting the pictures I want. But they are usually owned by very rich people who are often greedy.

Are you really hoping to find the next Emin or Hirst when - as you recently said - you hunt for art in the grotty parts of London at weekends? If you don't live in hope, why get up of a morning? Is a dashed hope better than no hope? Must I always answer a question with a question?

The artist Peter Blake has called you a 'malign influence' because of the way you can 'make' certain artists. Are you? I wonder whether Peter Blake would consider me less of a malign influence if I had bought some of his art. I try not to chew my nails down to the quick worrying about everything I do, otherwise I'd end up doing nothing.

Is it true that you had to remove Tracey Emin's bed from your house because of the smell, and that someone turned off Mark Quinn's 'Self' refrigeration causing the frozen blood to melt? No.

I know very little about contemporary art but have £1000 to invest. What do you recommend? Premium Bonds. Art is no investment unless you get very, very lucky, and can beat the professionals at their game. Just buy something that you really like that will give you a thousand pound's worth of pleasure over the years. And take your time looking for something really special, because looking is half the fun.

Have you ever taken advantage of anyone? If you asked the Dalai Lama, Mother Theresa or Mahatma Gandhi if they had ever taken advantage of anyone, they would be lying if they claimed they hadn't. So you can put me right up there with them, thanks.

What is your proudest achievement? I don't do pride. That's not to say that I don't have an ego the size of an aircraft hangar, but I'm not even very proud of that.

What does Nigella think of your addiction to cigarettes? She loves every little thing about me. Why do you ask?

What do you have in your bedroom at home? I have that Nigella.

Are you comfortable with Liu Wei's 'Indigestion II"? I don't think the artist intended people to feel comfortable looking at a giant poo. He's not an interior decorator.

What did you pay for it? I've thankfully blanked that from my memory.

What has been your biggest mistake in what you have bought? There's stiff competition, but fortunately I have a very poor memory, so although I've made many mistakes, I'm never haunted by them.

Has photography rendered figurative art pointless? No art is pointless. I had that Immanuel Kant round for a bit of a chin-wag the other day and he told me that the meaning of art was that it had no function.

What would you want on your epitaph? In what terms do you think of your legacy? Just how dull do you think I am? What sort of a twat is interested in epitaphs or legacies?

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