Salvador Dali’s Body To Be Exhumed Following Paternity Suit Judge Orders




A Spanish judge in Madrid has ordered the exhumation of Salvador Dali’s body in order to get samples for a paternity suit brought by a woman claiming to be his daughter. “The DNA study of the painter’s corpse is necessary due to the lack of other biological or personal remains with which to perform the comparative study.” The court said although the decision could be appealed.

Dali was known both for his bizarre art and bizarre personality

Maria Pilar Able Martinez (b 1956) claimed that her mother, a maid, told her several times that Dali was her father, often in front of others. Ms. Martinez, a tarot card reader, said her mother, Antonia, had a clandestine affair with the painter in 1955 while she was working for a family that spent summers in Cadaques close to where the artist had a home.  She left her job in 1955 and moved to another city where she got married. The decision cites that in 2007 Ms. Martinez underwent two paternity tests using hair and skin remains obtained from a death mask of the painter but the results were inconclusive.

The Persistence of Memory

The Persistence of Memory 1931 Image MoMa courtesy Wikipedia

The surrealist painter died in Spain in 1989 at the age of 85 and is buried in his hometown of Figueres in the north-eastern Catalonia region. At the time of the alleged affair, Dali was married to his muse Gala, born Elena Ivanovna Diakonova. The couple had no children. The legal action is against the Spanish state, to which Dali left his estate.

No date has been set for the exhumation but Ms. Martinez’s lawyer said it could happen as soon as July.  The Gala Dali Foundation has not commented.

Salvador Dali was born on 11 May 1904, one of the best-known  20th-century artists. Equally celebrated and reviled, this mustachioed Spaniard has become an icon of the art historical canon remembered both for his bizarre art and bizarre personality. He is known as a Surrealist.

Exploring the media of painting, drawing, sculpture, and film, Dali’s oeuvre is impressive in its skill and variety.  ‘The Persistence of Memory’ of 1931 is Dali’s most recognizable painting featuring melting clocks and an abstracted self-portrait. Also notable is Dali’s collaboration in 1929 with Luis Bunuel on the film ‘Un Chien Andalou’ with the highly memorable (and disturbing) scene of a razor slicing an eye.  Other work such as the Lobster Telephone (1936) is humorous and a bit cheeky. Throughout Dali’s work, the themes of sexuality, religion, psychology, and the absurd are recurrent and lend themselves to many interpretations.


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