Police are investigating photos of Nigella Lawson's husband grabbing her throat

Britain Nigella Lawson
FILE - In this Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012 file photo, English food writer, journalist and broadcaster, Nigella Lawson poses during the 28th MIPCOM (International Film and Programme Market for Tv, Video,Cable and Satellite) in Cannes, southeastern France. British police say they are investigating after a newspaper published photos of Nigella Lawson's husband Charles Saatchi with his hands around the celebrity chef's throat. The Sunday People newspaper ran pictures of what it said was the couple's violent argument at a London restaurant on June 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau, File)

One of the world's most successful art collectors is in scalding, hot water.

Officials are investigating photos of Charles Saatchi, Britain's top art collector, wrapping his fingers around the throat of his celebrity chef wife, Nigella Lawson.

Meanwhile, Lawson "has left the house," her rep confirmed with E! News Monday.

The photos which were published by The Mirror's Sunday People were taken at a restaurant in London earlier this month while the couple was engaged in what appeared to be a heated argument. Suddenly, Saatchi was said to have grabbed his wife's throat. "It was utterly shocking to watch," one onlooker at the restaurant told the paper. "I have no doubt she was scared. It was horrific, really. She was very tearful and was constantly dabbing her eyes."

In response to the photos, Saatchi told the Evening Standard - where he's a columnist - that they were taken during a "playful tiff," adding that they were a misrepresentation of the actual events. "About a week ago, we were sitting outside a restaurant having an intense debate about the children, and I held Nigella's neck repeatedly while attempting to emphasize my point," he said to the paper. "There was no grip."

Lawson, 53, is best known for her 1998 book, "How To Eat," and her shows, "Nigella Bites" and ABC's "The Taste." Saatchi, 70, is the co-founder of the Saatchi & Saatchi advertising agency. He's also the man behind Damien Hirst's rise to fame. The couple has been married for nine years.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.