CURSE OF THE SAATCHI WIVES; Nigella's Wedding to Charles Saatchi Is a New Beginning after Immense Tragedy. but as Two Broken Marriages Testify, He Likes Women to Be Lovers Not Wives. Can the Domestic Goddess Escape the Same Fate?

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Byline: GEOFFREY WANSELL

WHEN Britain's Domestic Goddess Nigella Lawson - famous for her finger licking and heaving bosom as she cooks on television - marries the reclusive advertising tycoon and art collector Charles Saatchi, there will be only the most discreet of celebrations in the [pounds sterling]5 million mansion the couple share in London's exclusive Eaton Square.

This marriage will be no Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones or Posh and Becks extravaganza: quite the reverse.

The banns for the forthcoming wedding allow them to tie the knot at any time from Monday next week, and friends are already saying privately that the ceremony will take place 'quickly, quietly, and with the minimum of fuss' in the lavish home where they have lived for the past 20 months.

There will be only 'a small family gathering to mark the event'.

For the 43-year-old bride knows only too well how her grumpy 60-year-old future husband dislikes parties of any kind - and that would include his own wedding reception.

In April, he even missed the star-studded gathering for the opening of his eponymous art gallery where guests included Jeremy Irons, Lord Heseltine, Stephen Fry and David Bailey. His bride-to-be represented him, saying: 'The things you do for love.' So the Nigella and Saatchi wedding will be a distinctly family affair, with members of both formidable Jewish clans represented.

Nigella is daughter of Nigel, now Lord, Lawson, former Tory Chancellor of the Exchequer, and sister to newspaper editor Dominic Lawson. Meanwhile, Saatchi, whose fortune is estimated to exceed [pounds sterling]70million, is brother to his business partner, Maurice, also a peer of the realm and Tory Treasury spokesman in the Lords.

Nigella's children with her late husband, writer and broadcaster John Diamond, who died of cancer in 2001, Cosima, ten, - always known as Mimi - and her brother Bruno, seven, will also be there, as will Saatchi's only child, Phoebe, eight.

One person who will not be present is Phoebe's mother, Saatchi's second wife, art collector and photographer, Kay Hartenstein, 49, who was divorced two years ago from the joint founder of the famous Saatchi and Saatchi agency after a 12-year marriage.

Indeed, if the former Mrs Saatchi were to be present, she would prove to be the proverbial spectre at the feast - for she would most certainly have a dire warning for the alabaster-skinned bride, whose raven hair and chocolate-browneyes transfixed millions in her television series Nigella Bites.

Ms Hartenstein fought an expensive divorce battle - with a legal bill of more than [pounds sterling]1million - over his 'unreasonable behaviour' and affair with Nigella.

GIVEN the opportunity, Kay would certainly remind the statuesque 12st bride, who sports what she herself once described as 'a stickyout bottom and sticky-out boobs', that her new husband is not exactly a man to be trusted when it comes to marriage.

Indeed, he has a tendency to change his attitude dramatically the moment he marries someone.

'He's always been a man of crushes - cars, clothes, artists,' the former Mrs Saatchi says, 'and his near evangelical pursuit usually wanes. You start out as his geisha girl, but that rapidly stops.' Certainly, Saatchi has pursued Nigella with fervour over the past three years, famously remaining at her side throughout the last days of her husband's life, and in recent months reportedly insisting on brushing her teeth for her.

The fervour was rapidly reciprocated, for within nine months of Diamond's death, Nigella had into Saatchi's Belgravia mansion, with her two children.

However, Saatchi, born in Baghdad of Jewish parents who fled to Britain in 1947, had been every bit as evangelical in his pursuit of the Arkansas-born Kay Hartenstein in 1986. Indeed, he proposed just two days after they first met, even though he was still married to his first wife, former advertising executive Doris Lockhart. …