Salvador Dalí's Body to Be Exhumed After Psychic Claims to Be His Daughter

Salvador Dalí by Carl Van Vechten, 1934 | © trialsanderrors/Flickr
Salvador Dalí by Carl Van Vechten, 1934 | © trialsanderrors/Flickr
Photo of Rachel Gould
Art & Design Editor6 July 2017

It seems the late Salvador Dalí is caught up in a rather surreal investigation. In June 2017, a Spanish psychic won a two year-long court battle to have the artist’s body exhumed for a paternity test that she hopes will finally prove her claims that she’s his daughter.

In March 2015, television tarot card reader Pilar Abel sued the Spanish state (to which the artist left his estate) and the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation in a paternity lawsuit on the basis that Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dalí was her father. If her claim is legitimate, she would be entitled to adopt the artist’s legendary surname and inherit a significant cut of his priceless legacy.

Salvador Dali with Babou the ocelot and his cane. | Roger Higgins, World Telegram staff photographer/WikiCommons

Abel’s claim is rooted in the story of her mother, who worked for a family with property in the coastal Spanish town of Cadaqués, where Dalí frequently vacationed since his childhood. Abel’s mother, then 25 years old, supposedly had an affair with the 51-year-old artist in 1955 while he was married to his muse, Gala. Abel was born the following year in 1956, repeatedly assured by her mother that Dalí was her biological father. Artnet News reported that Abel has taken DNA tests using hair and skin cells from Dalí’s death mask with inconclusive results.

Last month, a judge in Madrid ruled to have Dalí’s body exhumed for an official paternity test that could take place as soon as July of this year, though a spokesperson from the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation assured artnet News that the organization plans an appeal before the process officially begins.

Unsurprisingly, Abel has been met with a fair amount of skepticism. But if she is in fact proven to be the biological daughter of Salvador Dalí, this “would allow Ms Abel to take the Dalí name and give her rights over a share of his estate, estimated to be worth as much as 300 million euros,” The Telegraph reported.

Furthermore, The Telegraph points out, such results would enlighten the artist’s unusual marriage to Gala. Dalí supposedly suffered from a phobia of the female body, which consequently allowed Gala to pursue extramarital relationships. Gala moved to a castle in 1968, which Dalí was only allowed to visit upon a formal invitation.

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