Salman Rushdie called Padma Lakshmi a ‘bad investment’ when she was sick


For those of you too young to remember, before Padma Lakshmi was famous for Top Chef, she was famous for being Salman Rushdie’s young, beautiful fourth wife. The pairing was somewhat scandalous back in the day – she was 28 and he was 51… and married to his third wife. Once he got a divorce, they married and they were happy for a brief time. Then it all went to hell, they got a divorce and now Padma is famous in her own right. Padma has written a memoir, Love, Loss and What We Ate, and the NYDN had some juicy excerpts this weekend. You can read the full NYDN piece here, but here are the scandalous Rushdie parts:

“Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi recalls her years with author Salman Rushdie as a once beautiful meal that ultimately left her with mood poisoning… The ever-demanding Rushdie needed constant care and feeding — not to mention frequent sex, according to the book. And Lakshmi wrote that Rushdie was callously insensitive to a medical condition that made intercourse painful for her. Rushdie once became so enraged by her rejection of his overtures that he denounced Lakshmi as a “bad investment,” she wrote. When her undiagnosed endometriosis diminished Lakshmi’s sex drive, the unsympathetic Rushdie became furious that she was unavailable for the fevered, urgent intimacy they’d once enjoyed, according to the book.

Their May-December romance began when she was a struggling model-actress and Salman Rushdie already a global symbol of free speech after the Muslim backlash against his 1988 novel “The Satanic Verses.” Lakshmi was 28 and single, Rushdie was 51 and married to his third wife. A bit part in Mariah Carey’s disastrous 2001 movie “Glitter” was the apex of Padma’s big screen acting career. The pair first met in 1999 at a party. On their first real date — Rushdie initially wooed her by phone since she lived in Los Angeles — the pair fell into bed.

“At 3 a.m., I woke with a start. I’m naked in a married man’s bed,” she thought before sneaking out of the hotel room. They were wed in 2004, and divorced three years later. After Rushdie left his wife, their next few years were idyllic. The couple lived half the year in London to be close to his two sons. In Manhattan, they restored his townhouse to Gilded Age glory.

Rushdie brought her breakfast in bed every morning before she bolted off to the gym. Lakshmi became comfortable with his friends, “literary giants” like Susan Sontag and Don DeLillo, by preparing feasts for them. At parties, people would breathlessly ask what it was like to live with a man so brilliant. It was blissful, she writes. And then it wasn’t. For one thing, her career was taking off. She had already appeared in two shows on the Food Network when Andy Cohen called from Bravo. “Top Chef,” with master chef Tom Coliccihio, was in its second season. He wanted her to join the cast. Newsweek then put her on the cover illustrating a story about the “New India.”

“The only time Newsweek put me on their cover was when someone was trying to put a bullet in my head,” came Rushdie’s less-than-enthusiastic reaction. Each year when the Nobel Prize went to another writer, Rushdie took it hard. Lakshmi would console him.

Then came her medical condition, which took too long to properly diagnose. Eventually, Lakshmi would undergo more than one surgery to treat her severe ailment. According to Lakshmi, Rushdie appeared more worried about himself.

When Lakshmi said no to sex because of the pain, the author would reply, “How convenient.” Their arguments escalated, with Rushdie as “lethally eloquent” in battle as in print. Rushdie was often away. After one five-hour surgery, Lakshmi came home with stitches in four major organs and stents in both kidneys. Rushdie left the next day for a trip.

“The show must go on, after all,” he said on this way out the door, according to Lakshmi. Lakshmi’s first post-op trip out of the house was to a divorce lawyer.

[From The NYDN]

Rushdie sounds like an ass. Also, he sounds rather old-school, like he believes “genius” writers should live glamorous, sexy lives with an assortment of beautiful wives and lovers, all of whom make it their mission to stroke his ego on a daily basis. I’m not sure if Padma is writing this for sympathy or not, because I don’t really feel that sympathetic towards her. Like, of course I think Rushdie sounds like an a—hole. But I also think… yeah, what did she expect? She wasn’t complaining when he divorced his third wife to be with her.

Padma also details her relationships with billionaire Ted Forstmann and Adam Dell, including some details about her pregnancy, etc. I remember being slightly scandalized by that stuff at the time, but nowadays… I just wish her well.


Photos courtesy of WENN.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

73 Responses to “Salman Rushdie called Padma Lakshmi a ‘bad investment’ when she was sick”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Hellohello says:

    Salman Rushdie is a famewhore

  2. Naya says:

    Not surprising. A lot of this literary types are selfish sadistic human beings. V S Naipul comes to mind.

    • rosie says:

      @Naya after reading your comment about V.S. Naipaul, I checked him out..what an excuse of a human being. The way he treated his poor wife, and getting engaged to another woman when his she was dying of cancer. It really goes to show that talent has no links to morals or decency.

  3. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    I basically like Padma on Top Chef, although she talks baby talk a little bit, and I find that annoying. But she seems like a nice enough person. Still, I have little sympathy here, either. She entered into a trade – she married and had sex with an ugly old man for money and upward mobility. When she didn’t give him part of the bargain, he had no use for her. I’m sure if he lost all of his money, her interest in him would have waned. Marry for money and you earn every penny, as my mother would say.

    • Susan says:

      Well said. It doesn’t sound like their relationship was ever founded in love and caring. From the first date, it was based on cheating and sex. So you can’t be too surprised when you don’t receive love and caring at the worst of times when it wasn’t there during the best of times. Still, it stings to be abandoned with no care when you are vulnerable and needing help so I do have some sympathy.

    • dAsh says:

      This. She knew what she was getting herself in to when she married him and it wasn’t love. They both used each other so no sympathy here.

    • V4Real says:

      @GNAT I am pushing that like button that I wish was on this site. I have very little sympathy for women who marry for fame or money.

      Here’s looking at you Melania Trump.

      • Tessd says:

        Melania Trump appears to be pretty satisfied with what she got – she even began to look like her husband with that squinty gaze. She dated Trump for 5 years before they got married. I remember she once said in an interview when the journalist asked her what she thought of Trump bragging about her looks to other man that sounded degrading – “Oh, that’s just how guys talk.” I think theirs is a match made in Heaven.

    • NotSoSocialButterfly says:

      That all may be the case, but I have sympathy for her endo. My daughter was surgically diagnosed at 15. She had one week per cycle when she did not have pain. Had a dozen endometrial implants burned off various spots- some untreatable because of where they are ( ureters- thermal damage risk too great) after more than a year and a half of failed medical management. I suspect had I the same access to diagnosis & treatment in my teens & twenties, I would’ve been diagnosed as well, but it was not so acceptable a diagnosis then (1980s)- “All in your head” was too often the refrain.

      Endometriosis is awful, incapacitating at times; diagnosis is often delayed, and it is a lifelong issue.

      • WTW says:

        I actually just traveled from L.A. to Palo Alto to have a consultation with one of the best endo surgeons in medicine, Dr. Camran Nezhat. He does excision. There are only a handful of doctors in the nation who do excision surgery. This is better/more effective than burning off the lesions, which simply grow back and damage the organs. I am not in major pain like you daughter is, but it may be causing fertility problems for me, so I want it removed. Don’t know what part of the country you’re in, but in the East Coast, there’s Dr. Seckin, who Padma actually went to get her endo successfully treated.

      • Irma says:

        Yes endometriosis is awful. Chinese medicine combo of acupuncture herbs answer moxa can dissolve them and reset the cycle. It really works for some as a successful and permanent solution. And cost effective too. Plus gets rid of root cause of why the body is developing the cysts etc. It is sad that many don’t have information about any other options besides surgical or western so Google and share.

        Rushdie even looks like a pig as in chauvinist. Definitely as OP mentioned old school like Picasso or those male artists known for expecting such accoutrements of fame and payment for being such brilliant contributions to society. Eye roll.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        Yes, I have sympathy for her illness and pain as well.

      • Minxx says:

        I had a stage IV endo – the worst case – and I really do feel for her, especially at such a young age. I was lucky enough to have kids before it invaded most of my organs. I had three surgeries and finally they removed the uterus and ovaries – instant menopause but no pain and no damage to other organs. This stuff is awful, turns your life into a long struggle with debilitating pain.

      • AnotherDirtyMartini says:

        @notsosocialbutterfly – agree. I wish your daughter well. I’m glad she has a dx and an early one. My dx with endo was too little, too late. They’ve made progress since then, but more research is needed.

    • Snowflake says:

      Ahhh! You beat me to it. Marry for money, earn every penny. No sympathy here. Now they are divorced, she’s trying to act like she didn’t know his personality or ways. She chose to ignore it when it suited her. I’m sorry he treated her that way, though

    • AlmondJoy says:

      Yes GNAT you summed it up perfectly. Of course it’s very sad that she had endo, it’s extremely painful. But as for the marriage aspect, she married for the wrong reasons and it’s not surprising that she was treated the way she was. Your mom’s quote is on point.

    • pinetree13 says:

      “Marry for money and you earn every penny, as my mother would say.” My mom used to always say this too!!!!!!!!

      I would feel sorry for her but this was clearly a gold-digger situation. I mean you slept with an ugly-married-troll…don’t tell me it was because of his “literary brilliance”. Also, FOURTH WIFE! That right there should be a giant red flag. You don’t marry someone whose had 3 previous wives unless it’s for money. I mean come on.

      Although, I also feel like he should NOT be excused either. He sounds like a horrid human being and I no longer plan on reading any of his works. I feel no need to support rotten human beings.

    • Magnoliarose says:

      I have seen this in life and it is the truth. You earn it for sure.

    • milietan says:

      What I find interesting here is that everyone’s comments for Padma are basically “Well she knew what she was getting into so no sympathy for her” but Denise Richards has been sainted.

  4. CornyBlue says:

    Midnight’s Children was one of the first adult books I ever read as a child and growing up and learning about Rushdie has been so disappointing. Padma Lakshmi works so much for women in India and is an all around lovely being as far as I know. What do these amazing women do to deserve these horrible men

    • teacakes says:

      My first Rushdie was Haroun & the Sea of Stories, but I read Midnight’s Children when I was 14 and loved it.

      But I think by then I’d got used to the idea that genius men who produced great work often = assholes, so I wasn’t nearly as let down by Salman Rushdie turning out to be full of himself.

    • pinetree13 says:

      “What do these amazing women do to deserve these horrible men”

      Well if you marry a man who cheated on his wife to be with you….what do you really expect? You have to know that as soon as you age-out he’s going to cheat on you too….so really it was going to end eventually.

  5. Tash says:

    She looks beautiful on that book cover. I want her hair.

  6. QQ says:

    God, Her face/Coloring/Bone structure is GLORIOUS!!

  7. kimberlee says:

    He’s shown himself to be a d-bag on many occasions. He’s only a feminist in words, not deeds.

  8. Sam says:

    I can’t blame her for divorcing him after that kind of treatment.

    I remember that she attributes (in prior interviews) a lot of her man issues to her father. Her parents divorced after just having her. Her father got remarried and had more kids and when her half-sister wanted to be a model (something Padma was also pursuing) her father, who was really wealthy, sunk a crazy amount of money into her sister’s career and basically ignored her. And she’s always been pretty open about how being ignored by her dad messed with her and probably set her up for a lot of bad decisions with men. So I feel sort of bad for her in that sense.

    • Boo says:

      Agree with you and thanks for summarizing this. I didn’t know anything about her really. Human understanding is what we’re aiming for in life, I think, or should be. Cruelty and judgments after reading what she went through really leave a bad feeling.

      • perplexed says:

        I think it’s difficult to sympathize with her because she had no issue sleeping with a married man. I was prepared to feel bad for her before reading the story, but when she admitted she wound up in bed with the very married Rushdie, my perception was affected. I think one also has to be prepared for judgment when one reveals information to the public that no one was seeking. Obviously, I would expect her friends and family who know her personally to sympathize with her but as a member of the public who has no relationship to her my perception of her can go either way.

    • M.A.F. says:

      You can only use the absent daddy card for so long.

  9. Nic919 says:

    I came to Top Chef a few seasons in when Padma had already been hosting. When I decided to watch the first season hosted by Billy Joel’s wife, I realized just how much better Padma was at her job.

  10. Micki says:

    I comment her for her restraint.
    If that was my husband I’d be his widow now and not a divorcee.

  11. kri says:

    He sounds so sweet. I can’t believe a house hasn’t fallen on him yet.

  12. Drew says:

    I hope she wins a Nobel prize for her book and he gets really mad.

  13. mp says:

    I think an illness is when many people find out what their relationship really is made of…. Is anyone else grossed about by thinking about salman rushdie having sex?

    Her cookbooks suck, but she is a better Top Chef host than Katie Lee Joel, who was sooo flat.

    • DragonWise says:

      I am so very very grossed out indeed! I don’t see how she did it. I woukd need a bag for his head and so many drugs I doubt I could function anyway!

    • Mikeyangel says:

      Agreed. When I got really sick during my third pregnant (and suffered kidney blockage so bad that I had 5 months worth of stents and consistently blocking nephrostomy tubes) my husband was my rock! Worked full time, went to school full time, took care of 2 and 4 year old daughters at night (my mom and his mom, or I had them during the day if I wasn’t in the hospital), cooked (Wendy’s unfortunately serviced us a lot then, thank God for them!), did laundry, cleaned, shopped, did it all. I physically could barely stand. It was the most debilitating thing I have ever gone through and he was amazing. He even changed all of my bandages, which was a very frequent thing that took 30-45 minutes. She is beautiful, and I feel for her and her health issues. He is a pig. Kidney issues was honestly and truly 4 times more painful than my worst pregnancy which was normal but horrifying labor, lol. I feel for her having to have stents, worst experience of my life. I can’t imagine endometriosis, no personal experience to it, but I super feel for her. Glad she is successful, and he is a dried up has been. Brilliant or not, no excuse.

      • mp says:

        oh your comment is awesome. Your husband sounds amazing. I’m so sorry you had that horrible kidney issue.

  14. Esther says:

    if you read more outtakes from the book you realize they both deserved each other and im really sad that other people may have to put up with one of them.

    • mp says:

      I kinda expected that. I feel pretty confident that Salman Rushdie was a known pompous a**/”tortured artist” for a long time, but also, she was no ingenue at age 28, and having modeled for a while. I think she thinks a lot more highly of herself than is warranted (for example, she wasn’t the first Indian supermodel, though she claims to have been).

    • OhDear says:

      Yeah, from what I’ve read of both of them (excerpts from her book and otherwise), they both seem like terrible people.

  15. Soprana says:

    I don’t think she’s asking for sympathy. I’d say she’s illustrating the point that often times certain men can get away with atrocious behavior because they’re considered “geniuses”

    Rushdie’s not a Cosby or Woody Allen, but I’d put him in the same category as Steve Jobs (treated his own daughter like complete crap)

    • Ellie says:

      If you marry someone for their money, you have to provide the sex and looks. It’s a trade. She’s not a victim, she’s a volunteer.

  16. teacakes says:

    I get that starting off as an affair is not exactly a good start to any relationship, but at least she’s honest about it.

    He sounds like a real piece of work, he probably expected her to be an accessory and couldn’t handle it when she got to actually have a career in her own right. Not to mention the endometriosis part…. what a dickweed.

  17. SJO says:

    The Price of Gold Digging
    by Padma Lakshi

  18. Anon says:

    I don’t dislike Padma persay, but every interview or book I have read from her makes her sound incredibly self centered, and very much “my way or the highway” in and entitled manner. It just doesn’t jive well to me. I don;t wish ill on her of course, I just don’t find her to be very likeable.

    I also have endometriosis, and was diagnosed only a few months after getting married at 26. It can be very hard on a marriage. It often feels like we are scheduling our intimacy the way someone would when they are struggling to conceive… only for me its been like that for years. My husband is a saint, but even so it hasn’t been easy.

  19. carol says:

    What? She just found herself naked in bed at 3 AM with a famous writer and had no idea how that happened? Sounds like she’s used a lot of rich men along the way and has no qualms about writing about it.

  20. Mgsota says:

    I like Padma but I give her the side eye about the way she handled her baby daddy situation. Who knows what actually went down but she looked like the villain. Sounds like she wasn’t happy that the billionaire boyfriend wasn’t the baby daddy and treated the real dad like crap. Wouldn’t put his name on the birth certificate. He had to fight in court for the baby to have his last name, which he won. Padma said “it’s just a name, no big deal.”
    Coming from a home where my dad didn’t have much to do with me, it pisses me off when men have to fight to be in their child’s life. It makes the mother look very selfish. I’m looking at Halle Berry too.

    • Tiffany says:

      Yeah, it was all very defensive. Adam Dell is not strugging, you know.

      • LAK says:

        Adam Dell is the brother of the person who came up with Dell Computers. Basically she picked the wrong Dell, in cash terms, to father her kid. Like picking Mark Zuckerberg’s brother instead of Mark and finding out later that Mark had all or most of the money.

        Padma was hoping her sugar daddy, Billionaire Teddy whathisname was the daddy and if not, could adopt her kid. Teddy was very taken with the kid and her plan might have worked if Adam hadn’t insisted on his rights, and taking her to court to prove paternity, AND Teddy died.

        Still….Teddy left her an apartment and some cash and some sort of trust for the kid. So Padma won in the end.

    • Tessd says:

      I’ve never heard about this – was she hoping Dell would be the father and it turned out it was some other guys she was having sex with at the same time?

      • Mgsota says:

        She was hoping it was some (very) old dude’s baby named Teddy. Teddy was a billionaire who died (not sure when.) But it was Adam Dell’s baby who is the brother of the Dell computer dude…a little confusing. She treated Adam Dell like sh*t because she wanted Teddy to be the baby daddy.

    • M.A.F. says:

      She hooked up with both brothers?

  21. Mika says:

    He must be so hard to resist…I mean, look at him.

  22. perplexed says:

    It seemed like he gave an indication he’d be a crappy husband when he cheated on the other wife with Padma.

    To be fair to Padma (I guess), maybe Padma has some kind of daddy issues, which is the only explanation I can come up with for why she was attracted to him. I can’t imagine him having sex with anyone, let alone someone who looks like Padma, so this is all gross to me, of course.

  23. Locke Lamora says:

    I know all these people sold their souls a long time ago, but why would you make something so personal public? And neither one of them ends up looking good in this one.

    • perplexed says:

      I don’t get it either! She’s been with a ton or rich guys — I don’t think she needs money that badly.

  24. nic says:

    Good name for a book though

  25. spittair says:

    I remember watching him on Bill Maher when he said that Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren were too old for him (romantically). He’s an aging fart with a HUGE ego, as many successful male writers are. That said, I don’t feel sorry for her. Two peas in a pod.

  26. Veronica says:

    Having read “The Satanic Verses,” I am not at all surprised that his attitude toward women in literature extends to real life. This being said, there is something to be said about having to sleep in the bed you made, so here it is. Hopefully, she’s learned her lesson and matured.

  27. LAK says:

    She did well.

  28. Skyblue says:

    As a side note, I was suprised that Robyn Davidson fell for him as well in the 80s I believe. Love her book Tracks. He must possess some mysterious writerly charm (I’m throwing up a little trying to imagine what it is)…that said I have stage lV endometriosis and it is a miserable condition. I joke that my internal organs are wrapped in cobwebs,which isn’t so far from the truth. My uterus is completely matted down. Yuck!!!!! In fact, my right ovary is aching right now in solidarity for Padma.

  29. Magnoliarose says:

    I always find it funny when beautiful women trade their looks and youth for money and status and then complain about the lack of empathy and love in the union. Rushdie wasn’t looking for a soulmate and I find it hard to believe she was naive enough to expect it. Sorry for her health problems truly but Rushdie cheating should have been the clue he was no ‘until death to us part’ types.