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Exhumation of Salvador Dalí’s Body Ordered in Paternity Case


Salvador Dalí in Catalonia, Spain, in 1966.

Lama/European Pressphoto Agency

MADRID — A Spanish court ordered the exhumation of the corpse of Salvador Dalí in order to settle a woman’s claim to be recognized as the daughter of the Surrealist painter.

The court said that DNA testing should be done on Dalí’s corpse because no other remains or belongings were available that could allow a proper examination to settle the paternity claim.

Pilar Abel, a Tarot card reader, wants to be recognized as Dalí’s daughter, born as a result of what she has called a “clandestine love affair” that her mother had with the painter in the late 1950s in Port Lligat, the fishing village where Dalí and his Russian-born wife, Gala, built a waterfront house.


Pilar Abel says she is the product of an affair her mother had with Dalí.

Robintownsend/European Pressphoto Agency

Dalí was buried in a crypt below the theater of his hometown, Figueres, which Dalí helped convert into his museum and one of Catalonia’s major tourism destinations. The foundation that manages the museum and other parts of Dalí’s estate said it would appeal the exhumation order, which was decided by a judge from a Madrid court last week but only made public on Monday.

Dalí died in 1989, seven years after Gala, with whom he had had an unusual and childless relationship, which included Gala moving to a castle overlooking Púbol, another Catalan village, and only granting Dalí the right to visit her there by written invitation. In his will, Dalí left paintings worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the Spanish state.

Ms. Abel filed her lawsuit in 2015, against the Spanish state and the painter’s foundation. In an interview shortly after she took legal action, she said that she wanted recognition as Dalí’s daughter and “after that, whatever corresponds to me.” At the time, Ms. Abel explained that she filed the lawsuit, rather than her mother, Antonia Martínez de Haro, because her mother was in poor health and had Alzheimer’s disease. Ms. Abel’s mother spent several summers in Port Lligat, working mostly as a nanny for different families living near Dalí’s home. Ms. Abel could not be immediately be reached for further comment on Monday.

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