Art collector Charles Saatchi announced Tuesday he was relocating his London art gallery, accusing the landlord at his current site of creating a "malevolent atmosphere." The Saatchi Gallery, home to a large collection of contemporary British art, announced it would move from the former County Hall building on the south bank of the River Thames in 2007. Its new home will be the former Duke of York's military headquarters in the city's Chelsea neighborhood.
County Hall, seat of the Greater London Authority until its abolition in 1986, is owned by Japanese development company Shirayama Shokusan Corp. and houses two hotels, an aquarium and other attractions. The firm's European head, Makota Okamoto, has reportedly clashed with gallery staff since Saatchi moved to the building in 2003. The gallery said work on its new 50,000-square-foot (4,645-square-meter) space would begin in April. A former advertising executive, Saatchi, 62, is one of Britain's leading art collectors. His collection includes iconic pieces such as Tracey Emin's "My Bed" _ strewn with cigarette butts, used condoms and empty vodka bottles _ and Damien Hirst's shark suspended in formaldehyde, according to the AP. Last year, however, Saatchi announced he was stripping his London gallery of the provocative "Brit Art" installations that made his name and replacing them with works in the more traditional medium of painting. AM