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Penn Salvador Dali
Salvador Dali, New York by Irving Penn, 1947The Irving Penn Foundation, Courtesy of The Sir Elton John Photography Collection

Salvador Dalí’s body is being exhumed for a paternity test

A judge has ordered the exhumation of the famous surrealist’s body as part of a lawsuit against the Spanish state, now a woman is claiming to be Dalí’s daughter

A Spanish tarot card reader is in the process of taking legal action against the Spanish state to prove that Salvador Dalí is her father. 61-year-old Maria Pilar Abel Martínez – the daughter of a maid who lived next to one of Dalí’s houses – claims that her mother started an affair with the painter just a year before she was born. Martínez has made previous attempts for paternity tests in 2007, but never received the results. Dalí left his estate to the Spanish state, and if Martínez wins her suit, she will not only be able to request the world famous Dalí name but will also receive a share of his huge estate, while having her questions finally answered. She even told Spanish magazine El Mundo: “The only thing I'm missing is a moustache”.

Salvador Dalí was married to Gala Dalí, also his business manager and one of his muses, for over 50 years – though the couple were famously lenient about the confines of their relationship. Gala, 10 years his senior, kept lovers with the encouragement of her husband and the stories of Dalí’s own sexual preferences are even more unconventional. Dalí claimed to be both impotent and a virgin despite his marriage, while surrounding himself with younger, beautiful muses. He often claimed he wanted nothing from women but their beauty and was known to be more of a voyeur than anything.

In light of this information, plus the lack of heirs, objects or witnesses to contribute, a judge presiding over the case has decided there’s only one way to settle this. An order has been sent for the body of the iconic artist to be exhumed so that they can obtain a biological sample. The Dalí Foundation unsurprisingly plan to appeal the motion and avoid what many will consider a disruption and/or tarnishing of both Dalí’s legacy and his literal corpse. His body is buried in a crypt underneath the Dalí Theatre and Museum in his home town of Figueres, Spain. As of yet, no date has been set for the exhumation but for Martínez, the long overdue action could be completely life-changing.

Dali had a complicated relationship with his own parents: one time, he exhibited a piece of art that read: “Sometimes, I spit for fun on my mother’s portrait”. His father asked him to publicly apologise, and Dali later sent him a condom filled with his own semen and a note that read: “This is all I owe you”.