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Posted at 08:00 AM ET, 01/15/2013

Heather and Tony Podesta, married superlobbyists and art collectors, are separating


Heather and Tony Podesta at a party in August 2011. (Rebecca D'Angelo for The Washington Post)

Updated 6 p.m.

Yet another Beltway power couple is calling it quits: Superlobbyists Heather and Tony Podesta.

“As best friends, we have made the difficult decision to separate,” they acknowledged late Monday in a statement. “We appreciate all of the support of friends and family.”

Wed in 2003 (her third marriage, his second), the popular twosome cut an unusually colorful swath through Washington’s political scene — she in cutting-edge designer clothes and heels, he in graphic ties and trademark red Prada loafers. “The pope wears Prada,” he told the New York Times last year, “and so do I.”

That only works in D.C. if the playful style is backed with some serious substance, and indeed, the Podestas run two of the city's most powerful lobbying shops. Tony, 69, is a former Democratic campaign operative who founded the Podesta Group (with brother John Podesta, later Bill Clinton’s White House chief of staff). Heather, 43, is a former Hill staffer who founded her own eponymous shop in 2007 and became the “It Girl in a new generation of young, highly connected, built-for-the-Obama-era lobbyists,” wrote our colleague Manuel Roig-Franzia in a 2009 Style profile .

Unlike most lobbyists, the two never shied from the spotlight. They count many top Democrat politician as personal friends, have bundled hundreds of thousands for liberal candidates, and enjoyed a spirited and sometimes public competition for big-dollar clients. “It takes a Podesta to take out a Podesta,” she joked in 2009.

But the two are equally well-known for their extensive contemporary-art collection (including an infamous nude man painting that caused much nervous glances at some of their fancier fundraisers), the Kalorama mansion they renovated to showcase the paintings and sculpture, and their reputation as international art patrons. In 2009, they purchased Shepard Fairey’s iconic Obama “Hope” collage as a gift for the National Portrait Gallery; last year, they appeared on a bus shelter ad as part of the National Museum of Women in the Arts’ 25th anniversary celebration.

The split, we’re told, is amicable; no fireworks expected in dividing the art collection. The couple has no children.

Earlier: Heather Podesta, a storm in the summer of the lobbyist, 8/24/09

Married, with art:Tony and Heather Podesta are a study in power collecting, 9/23/04

Related: Sam Donaldson and wife Jan Smith Donaldson separate after 29 years, 1/3/13
Bill Frist and Karyn Frist finalize divorce settlement, 12/14/12


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By  |  08:00 AM ET, 01/15/2013

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