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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 October 2005, 12:00 GMT 13:00 UK
Saatchi Gallery row at High Court
Saatchi Gallery at County Hall
The Gallery opened on London's South Bank in 2003
The landlord of the London art gallery where Charles Saatchi houses his world-famous collection is seeking to evict him in a High Court battle.

Japanese company Shirayama Shokusan is accusing the operators of the Saatchi Gallery of continually breaching the terms of its lease.

It alleges the gallery hung works of art in off-limit areas and had immediately tried to renegotiate rent.

Mr Saatchi is planning to move his main artworks to a new gallery in Chelsea.

Among his collections are works by modern artists Damien Hirst, Marc Quinn and Tracey Emin.

Deteriorating relations

But lawyers for Shirayama Shokusan insist Mr Saatchi intends to keep the premises at County Hall as "either a low cost museum of photography or a museum of very new young artists".

Christopher Pymont QC told judge Sir Donald Rattee on Thursday that relations between the gallery operators Danovo and Shirayama Shokusan European representative Masakazu Okamoto "soon deteriorated" after the gallery opened in 2003.
Tracey Emin's My Bed
Tracey Emin's My Bed had been on display at the gallery

Mr Pymont said Mr Saatchi had made a telephone call to record producer Pete Waterman, who is a director of Cadogan Leisure, which leased the building.

"Mr Waterman's evidence is that Mr Saatchi made highly defamatory remarks about Mr Okamoto, his wife, members of the Cadogan Board and of the claimants' solicitor," said Mr Pymont.

"He accused them of being engaged in fraud, embezzlement and theft."

Visitor numbers

Shirayama Shokusan and Cadogan are seeking possession of the building, an injunction to prevent trespassing and damages for past trespasses.

Cadogan also accuses the gallery of breaking a clause in the lease which requires it to charge a minimum price per ticket.

"This is important to Cadogan, partly because it has a turnover rent and partly because it has the right to terminate the lease if the gallery cannot maintain visitor numbers over a certain level," said Mr Pymont.

He added that a "two for the price of one" ticket offer in Time Out magazine was a breach of the lease.

The case continues.


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