10/06/2012 11:44 BST | Updated 10/06/2012 11:45 BST

Damien Hirst's Partner Maia Norman 'Leaves Him For Former Mercenary Tim Spicer'

Artist Damien Hirst and his longterm live-in partner have separated after she left him for a former mercenary.

Hirst and Californian fashion designer Maia Norman, who share three sons, never married despite 19 years together - although the artist referred to her as his "common-law wife".

But Maia has now left Damien for former Army officer Lt-Colonel Tim Spicer, a Falklands ­veteran, according to the Sunday Mirror.

maia norman damian hirst

Maia Norman with Damien Hirst in happier times

A pal tells the publication: "It is very sad what has happened between Damien and Maia but they adore their three children and they will always stay close friends for the sake of their family.

"Damien and Maia have had their ups and downs over the years, but everyone is still shocked they have split. They have been through so much together since their hell-raising days. They decided to enjoy the quiet ­family life in Devon and never thought they would separate."

The artist - who met Maia through her ex-boyfriend, art dealer Jay Jopling - was notorious for drink and drugs parties in the 1990s, but settled down and enjoyed the country life in Devon with his partner and their sons.

He once declared: "When I was drinking I thought I was ­working at half-power. But when I stopped I realised I was on like 10%. I got sick of myself. We were both battered."

Damien's mother Mary Brennan, who lives near the family home in Combe Martin, had no idea about the split, telling reporters: "I don't know. They don't tell me anything. I'm always the last to know... I mean they're always in and out with one another."