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A psychic’s claim to be the daughter of Salvador Dalí has been disproven. Source: korionov / Adobe Stock.

DNA Test Disproves Woman’s Claim to be Salvador Dalí’s Daughter


A long-running legal case involving Salvador Dalí, one of the 20th century’s greatest painters, may have finally come to an end. A woman who had filed a paternity suit against the estate of the Surrealist artist has been found liable for the legal costs of the case. This case led to the disinterring of the Spanish painter and caused a sensation around the world.

The Secret Daughter of Salvador Dalí?

This controversial case began five years ago when Pilar Abel launched a case against the Gala-Dalí Foundation which controls the late artist’s estate. Ms. Abel is a fortune teller from Girona, Spain, who reads tarot cards, and she claimed that Dalí was her biological father. If she could prove her claims she would have been eligible for a portion of his estate, which is estimated to be worth about $130 million. That would have been a great payday for probably the result in quite some time.

Ms. Abel’s mother had worked in Cadaqués at an estate owned by the Dalí’s family. She asserted that her mother had an affair with the painter, despite being married. Ms. Abel’s mother allegedly became pregnant as a result of this relationship but kept it a secret. In 2017 the court ordered that “hair, nail, and bone samples were taken to support Pilar Abel’s contention that the artist was her father” reports The Guardian.

A Surreal Investigation

The court ordered that Dalí’s remains be disinterred from their burial place so that the samples could be taken. They were buried under a museum in Figueres, the artist’s hometown in the Catalonian region of Spain. During the removal of his remains from the tomb, a remarkable discovery was made.

The painter’s trademark mustache was still intact, almost thirty years after his death. Narcís Bardalet, who embalmed the Surrealist’s corpse and assisted in its exhumation stated that “His mustache is still intact, [like clock hands at] 10 past 10, just as he liked it. It’s a miracle.” according to The Guardian.

Salvador Dalí in the 1960s sporting his characteristic flamboyant mustache. Photographed holding his pet ocelot, Babou. (Library of Congress / Public Domain)

Salvador Dalí in the 1960s sporting his characteristic flamboyant mustache. Photographed holding his pet ocelot, Babou. (Library of Congress / Public Domain)

DNA Test Results

DNA tests were conducted on Dali’s samples and some provided by Ms. Abel. These tests showed categorically that the Surrealist was not the father of the tarot card reader. However, the fortune teller did not give up and launched a further appeal, based on how the DNA test was conducted. She claimed that during the “chain of custody” the process of handling and testing the remains had not been appropriate, reports Art Net News.

A Spanish Court threw Ms. Abel’s case out of court and stated that there was “nothing whatsoever to support” her claims according to The Guardian. To make matters worse for her, the court ruled that she must pay the cost of the exhumation and the DNA tests. ATI states that “previous reports estimated the exhumation cost to be around $7,600”.

Salvador Dalí was an Eccentric Genius

It is unlikely that Ms. Abel will be able to pay the sum soon as she claims to be bankrupt. Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation, issued a statement saying, “The court’s decision puts an end to this sad episode, which led to the exhumation of Salvador Dalí’s mortal remains back in July 2017” reports The Guardian. It is not known if the Foundation will pursue Ms. Abel for the costs through the court.

Salvador Dalí is widely regarded as an eccentric genius and one of the seminal avant-garde artists of the modern era. He was the leading Surrealist painter, who used startling images and painted realistically, to express the desires of the unconscious in works such as The Persistence of Memory (1931).

‘The Persistence of Memory’ painted by Salvador Dalí in 1931. (Via Tsuji / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

‘The Persistence of Memory’ painted by Salvador Dalí in 1931. (Via Tsuji / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Dalí was a very controversial figure because he supported the Fascist regime of Franco and his many publicity stunts. Today, many of his paintings are valued in the tens of millions.

Dalí and Sex or Lack Thereof

The artist’s work was deeply influenced by his complex attitude to sex. It is widely believed that he was a voyeur and was possibly gay, even though he was married to Gala, for almost half a century. Carlos Lozano, who was part of Dalí’s inner circle is quoted by ATI as saying that the artist “was totally unable to have any sexual relations with anybody, not even, probably, with Gala”.

‘Gala leaning out the window’, sculpture by Salvador Dalí. (Manuel González / CC BY-SA 3.0)

‘Gala leaning out the window’, sculpture by Salvador Dalí. (Manuel González / CC BY-SA 3.0)

Indeed, the great Surrealist spoke openly about being impotent and that this was what made him a great painter. For these reasons, many of those who knew the painter doubted Ms. Abel’s claims.

Art Net News states that “Abel is entitled to appeal the court’s decision within 20 days”. It is not known if she will appeal the case and most likely this is the end of the affair. The mortal remains of the famous mustached painter will now be left in peace, it appears.

Salvador Dalí’s crypt at the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres displays his name and title. (Asmadeus~commonswiki / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Salvador Dalí’s crypt at the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres displays his name and title. (Asmadeus~commonswiki / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Ancient DNA Origins

Top image: A psychic’s claim to be the daughter of Salvador Dalí has been disproven. Source: korionov / Adobe Stock.

By Ed Whelan

Ed Whelan's picture


My name is Edward Whelan and I graduated with a PhD in history in 2008. Between 2010-2012 I worked in the Limerick City Archives. I have written a book and several peer reviewed journal articles. At present I am a... Read More

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