A court in Madrid has ordered the remains of Spanish artist Salvador Dalí to be exhumed from his self-designed resting place, a crypt beneath the Dalí theatre and Museum in his hometown of Figueres.
The exhumation comes as an attempt to extract DNA for a paternity claim by a woman named Pilar Abel, who was born in 1956. For over a decade, Abel has been trying to prove that Dalí is her father, and that she is his only child. Under Spanish law, the latter claim entitles Abel to a quarter of his fortune. The Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation, which is in control of the artist’s estate, announced it would appeal the decision immediately.
Abel, a tarot card reader and fortune-teller from Girona, claims that she was conceived in secret in 1955, while her mother was working for a family in Cadaqués, a fishing village close to Dalí’s family holiday home. She further claims that her mother told her on numerous occasions that Dalí was her father. She also claims the physical resemblance is so uncanny that “the only thing I’m missing is a moustache.”
Apparently, the court ruled that Dalí’s body should be exhumed due to “the lack of other biological or personal remains with which to perform the comparative study.” Over the past ten years, Abel has attempted to prove her paternity claim twice through DNA. In 2007, the courts granted her permission to attempt to extract DNA from traces of hair and skin from Dalí’s death mask, but the results were inconclusive.
A second attempt was made soon after to test DNA from items supplied by Robert Descharnes, biographer and close friend of Dalí. Those tests were negative, despite Abel’s claims she ‘never received the results.’ The fact that Dalí often claimed he was impotent brings further doubt to her claims. Also, though he and his wife, Gala, hosted weekly orgies, he never participated, only watched. This has been confirmed by a number of attendees, including Cher.
It’s also worth noting that this isn’t the first time Abel has tried to milk money by way of the Spanish courts. In 2005, she attempted to sue Spanish writer Javier Cercas for €700,000, claiming that a character in his novel, Soldiers of Salamis, was based on her.
Sounds suss, but have you ever read a Dali biography? He once drove 1,000 lbs of cauliflower from Spain to Paris in a limo and then started handing them out to people. Literally anything is possible.