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Did Saatchi boost book to bestseller list with aides’ buying sprees?

Elisabetta Grillo, left, and her sister Francesca stand accused of personal use of Charles Saatchi and Nigella Lawson's credit cards in a case that extends to British bestseller lists.
(Andrew Cowie / AFP/Getty Images)

Did Charles Saatchi game British bestseller lists?

Elisabetta Grillo testified in court that she took taxis around London buying his book from a number of shops across the city, as many as four times a week.

“Charles had written a book, and he wanted it high in the list,” she told the court.

Grillo and her sister Francesca were both assistants to Charles Saatchi and Nigella Lawson during their marriage. The two sisters stand accused of using the couple’s credit cards to spend more than $1.1 million on themselves.

According to Grillo, she was instructed to withdraw cash from the credit card accounts in order to make the book purchases. “He doesn’t like me to go with the cards to buy the books,” Grillo said. “Maybe because it was Conarco [Saatchi’s company] and they would find out it was him.”

Advertising executive and art impresario Saatchi and his ex-wife Lawson, who divorced in July, have been embroiled in the high-profile fraud case. An e-mail Saatchi sent to Lawson, which became part of the case, said she and her daughter were “so off your heads on drugs” that the Grillo sisters were allowed to spend whatever they liked.

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Grillo testified that Lawson used cocaine regularly and have said they were covering up for her drug use in exchange for use of the couples’ credit cards.

Lawson has denied the allegations. The television chef, who has admitted only to using the drug once during her 10-year marriage to Saatchi and a handful of times with her first husband, says she was reluctant to testify in the case and that Saatchi threatened to “destroy” her if she did not.

Saatchi’s most recent book, “The Naked Eye,” was published in the U.S. in November.

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