CHELSEA owner Roman Abramovich's partner was forced to apologise after a picture was published of her apparently sitting on a half-naked black woman.
The provocative image of socialite and art collector Dasha Zhukova (32) sitting on a chair fashioned in the form of a black woman sparked outrage around the world.
This was further fuelled by the fact that it was posted online on Martin Luther King Day, accompanying an interview with Ms Zhukova on the Russian style website Buro 24/7.
But the photograph of her perched demurely on the chair was taken down soon after it had appeared online.
The partner of the Russian billionaire quickly issued an apology. She said: "This photograph, which has been published completely out of context, is of an artwork intended specifically as a commentary on gender and racial politics.
"I utterly abhor racism and would like to apologise to anyone who has been offended by this image."
The image appears as a homage or reference to a similar chair created by the British pop artist Allen Jones in 1969, which featured a white woman in similar pose.
The partner of the Chelsea owner has spent millions on contemporary art, including prized works by Dublin-born Francis Bacon.
Ms Zhukova, who has two children with Mr Abramovich, is independently wealthy thanks to her father's fortune.
The artwork by Norwegian artist Bjarne Melgaard is one of a series that "reinterprets art historical works from artist Allen Jones as a commentary on gender and racial politics", said a spokesman for Ms Zhukova.
Last night, the artist who created the original artwork upon which the chair was based said he never meant the chair to be sat on.
Mr Jones said: "It's obviously a copy of my sculpture and I suppose I should be flattered. I never meant the chair to be sat on."
Campaign group 'Organising for Women's Liberation' criticised the image of Ms Zhukova, calling it "incredibly racist".
Ms Zhukova and Mr Abramovich reputedly paid £86.3m (€105m) for a Francis Bacon triptych in 2008 - a record for the artist, who was born on Baggot Street in Dublin, and the highest price paid for a post-war work of art at auction at the time.