A decade-long quest to prove a woman was the artist’s only child has ended
61-year-old tarot card reader Pilar Abel, from Girona, has spent 10 years campaigning for a paternity test. She claimed the artist had an affair with her mother when she worked as a maid in the 50s in Port Lligat, the small fishing village where Dalí and his wife Gala, built a house. Back in June, a judge called for a test to be carried out – a month later, forensics arrived at the crypt Dalí designed for himself to take samples from hair, nails and bones.
Always one to shock, the exhumation on the surrealist found his famous mustache completely intact, preserved in “its classic 10-past-10 position”, according to secretary-general Lluís Peñuelas of the Gala-Salvador Dalí foundation, who previously related the exhumation to El Pais.
A statement from the Gala-Salvador Dalí foundation detailed “the exclusion of Salvador Dalí as the biological father of María Pilar Abel Martínez”.
They added that the results were unsurprising, “since at no time has there been any evidence of the veracity of an alleged paternity”, and that the foundation “is pleased that this report puts an end to an absurd and artificial controversy”.
Abel told Spanish press that she hadn’t yet received the official test results. She said: “Until I’ve got official word, they can say what they like. I’m not hiding away and no matter what the result is, positive, negative or invalid, I’ll give a press conference to all the media to explain the result.”
She added: “If it comes out negative, I’ll still be la Pilar.”
Had she proved she was the artist’s child, she would have inherited a quarter of Dalí’s fortune, left to the Spanish state.
Abel was allowed to conduct paternity tests back in 2007 with DNA extracted from Dalí’s death mask, though those findings were inconclusive. She claimed that she never received the results of a test conducted a year later on pieces supplied by Robert Descharnes, Dalí’s friend and biographer.
Dalí's remains will be returned to his resting place at the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres, Spain.
The Spanish artist legacy will, with or without an heir, certainly live on: The Royal Academy London will host the first-ever exclusive dialogue between Dalí and Marcel Duchamp: the exhibition will include 80 paintings, sculptures, Readymades, photographs, drawings, films and archival items, and will use the pair’s unlikely friendship as a point to explore aesthetics, philosophical and personal connections.