Padma Lakshmi was with Salman Rushdie for eight years, three of which married. Only last year, nine years after their divorce, did she reveal what their relationship was really like.
Divorce finalized in 2007
Padma Lakshmi met famous novelist Salman Rushdie in 1999. Considering his status, her love of books and his way with words, she was instantly smitten with him. The sentiment was mutual and the two ended up in bed together on their very first date. At the time Salman was still officially married, but had assured Padma that his marriage to Elizabeth West was over. He had only been married to her for two years by that time and he continued to be married to her until the finalization of the divorce in 2004.
But he was involved with Padma and the two started living together in 2000. He even dedicated his book Fury to her, which was published in 2001.
Padma later said that she was blissfully happy during those years. But she was also growing up, following her own dreams and becoming increasingly independent. Still, after Salman’s third divorce was finalized, he and Padma married in 2004.
It was then that Padma suffered increasingly from endometriosis. She had suffered from the chronic illness her entire adult life, but the condition remained undiagnosed until she turned 36. One of the consequences of her suffering was the inability to be intimate with Salman, which took a toll on their relationship.
In 2007 the marriage broke apart. Padma later said that she had penned a letter to Salman asking for the end of their marriage. She had hoped for it to be amicable and not fight about anything, but apparently Salman wasn’t so benevolent. Apparently she had initially only wanted a separation for some time, but he asked for it to be permanent instead. The two filed for divorce in July 2007. Padma had to move out of their shared home in New York City, which devastated her. She confessed that she missed him and that leaving him left her in pieces.
Whilst Salman said some unkind things about Padma at the time, she simply wanted a peaceful separation, not even asking for anything aside from the gifts she had received from him during their relationship.
She denied that any third parties, i.e. other men, had been involved in the split and that nothing much untoward had happened. Some speculated at the time that she had simply outgrown him. When they’d first met she had been star struck. Now more mature and successful in her own right, she was no longer at his beck and call and able to stand on her own two feet.
The divorce was finalized quietly and presumably amicably. It stands to reason that there was a pre-nup. This was Salman’s fourth marriage, after all, and his fortune would have to have been vastly greater than hers. Plus, she did say she didn’t want anything from him.
Padma moved on to dating Teddy Forstmann, CEO of IMG and 30 years her senior. She was with him essentially until he died from complications of a brain tumour. But in between she was also involved with Adam Dell, brother of Michael Dell, and had a daughter with him in 2010.
At the time of the birth Padma hadn’t been certain who of the two the girl’s father was. Whilst she had wanted for it to be Teddy, it turned out to be Adam. Teddy, however, was the more involved of the two, even leaving the girl a trust fund in his testament. Adam on the other hand sued Padma for full custody in 2012. He wanted more access to his daughter and he wanted to be named as the father in her birth certificate.
Eventually the two came to an agreement outside of court. Whilst Padma’s custody rights remained unchanged, Adam received more time with his daughter and his surname was also added to her name.
Early last year, then, Padma published a memoir that contained a lot of information on her marriage to and divorce from Salman Rushdie. She claims to have informed him about the book and that it revealed a few details. That many of those details were unflattering is a different story entirely.
For instance, according to Padma then-husband Salman was rather libidinous and quite uncaring at the same time. He wanted to sleep with her frequently, but her endometriosis left her in so much pain that she rejected his advances.
When she needed him, after surgery or when she was particularly unwell, he was not there for her. It would seem that their relationship had been more about catering to his needs than to hers. Eventually she was no longer the admiring, demure wife and his arm candy, but someone who also needed him to pull his weight, be there for her and who didn’t appreciate her for her own accomplishments.
Regardless of all the lurid details, though, Padma insists that she will always love Salman and that they now have a good relationship.
After the death of Teddy Forstmann, it seems Adam and Padma have recently been rekindling their relationship. They seem to be getting along much better these days and are said to be taking things slowly.
Salman on the other hand has been linked to a successive string of young and beautiful women after his divorce from Padma. Indeed, he is not known to have been in a long-term relationship again and it seems rather unlikely that he’ll marry for a fifth time.