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Media shy Charles Saatchi never showed up at the opening party for his County Hall art gallery Tuesday night in London, but his girlfriend, Nigella Lawson, did.

“I’m his living sacrifice,” said Lawson with a laugh before the party.

This story first appeared in the April 17, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Indeed, Lawson, cinched into a black Vivienne Westwood dress, was mobbed by photographers at the gallery’s entrance.

Guests including Stella McCartney, Minnie Driver, Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, Ivan Massow, Ilaria Bulgari, Jemma Kidd, Jeremy Irons, Jade Jagger, Jake and Dinos Chapman and Miranda Richardson wandered through the gallery’s wood-paneled rooms, chatted among Hirst’s dissected animals and followed their noses to Richard Wilson’s “20:50” — a smelly lake of used engine oil.

Kidd said none of Saatchi’s artworks outshone her own jewels, a white gold and diamond necklace and bracelet by De Beers LV.

“I saw some dead things over there, and I’m making my way around this amazing gallery. But truly, these jewels are the real works of art,” she deadpanned.

Emin, whose “My Bed,” is on display in the rotunda with works by fellow Young British Artists, said she’s not bothered at all by the contrast between County Hall’s stern Edwardian Baroque style and the YBA’s works — something that’s rankled more than one art critic.

“I live in a Georgian house that’s over 200 years old. I don’t live against a Philippe Starck backdrop,” said Emin. “My art is meant to be shown in a warm and comfortable environment.”

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