Salvador Dalí’s ‘daughter’ unrelated to him, DNA tests show | World news

DNA evidence taken from the recently exhumed body of Salvador Dalí has shown that he is not the father of a woman who had claimed to be the only child and heir of the eccentric surrealist.

Pilar Abel, a 61-year-old tarot card reader and fortune teller from Girona, has spent the past 10 years trying to prove that she is the fruit of a liaison between her mother and Dalí in 1955.

In June, a court in Madrid ordered the artist’s body to be exhumed after previous attempts to determine paternity had failed. A month later, experts entered the crypt beneath the museum Dalí designed for himself in his home town of Figueres, Catalonia, to take DNA samples from his hair, nails and bones.

However, on Wednesday, the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation, which controls the artist’s lucrative estate – and which had opposed the exhumation – said analysis of the remains had shown that he was not related to Abel.

The foundation said a report submitted to the court by the National Institute of Toxicology and Forensic Sciences had established that Dalí was not her biological father.

“This conclusion comes as no surprise to the foundation, since at no time has there been any evidence of the veracity of an alleged paternity,” it said in a statement. “The foundation is pleased that this report puts an end to an absurd and artificial controversy, and that the figure of Salvador Dalí remains definitively excluded from totally groundless claims.”

It said the DNA samples would be returned shortly, adding: “The Dalí Foundation is also pleased to be able to focus again on the management of its extraordinary artistic legacy and in the promotion of the work and figure of Salvador Dalí.”

Abel told the Spanish newspaper El País that neither she nor her lawyers had yet received the results of the tests. “Until I’ve got official word, they can say what they like,” she said. “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.”

Abel had claimed that the resemblance between her and the artist was so marked that “the only thing I’m missing is a moustache”, adding that she had first learned of her supposed parentage from the woman she thought was her paternal grandmother.

Abel claims she told her: “I know you aren’t my son’s daughter and that you are the daughter of a great painter, but I love you all the same.” She also noted that her granddaughter was “odd, just like your father”.

Ten years ago, Abel was granted permission to try to extract DNA from skin, hair and hair traces found clinging to Dalí’s death mask. The results proved inconclusive.

A second attempt to retrieve samples followed later that year using material supplied by the artist’s friend and biographer Robert Descharnes.

Although Abel has claimed she never received the results of the second test, Descharnes’ son Nicholas told the Spanish news agency Efe in 2008 that he had learned from the doctor who conducted the tests that they were negative.

Had the DNA evidence supported her claim, Abel would have been heir to a quarter of Dalí’s fortune, which he bequeathed to the Spanish state and the foundation that bears his name and that of his wife and muse, Gala.

The latest twist in the extraordinary saga in the life and death of the surrealist had made headlines around the world – as had the fact that Dalí’s trademark moustache had survived the Grim Reaper’s scything.

Narcís Bardalet, the embalmer who prepared Dalí’s body after his death in 1989 and helped with the exhumation, said he had been thrilled and touched to see the surrealist’s best-known feature once again.

“His moustache is still intact, [like clock hands at] 10 past 10, just as he liked it. It’s a miracle,” he told the Catalan radio station RAC1.

“His face was covered with a silk handkerchief – a magnificent handkerchief … When it was removed, I was delighted to see his moustache was intact … I was quite moved. You could also see his hair.”

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Salvador Dalí’s remains due to be exhumed to settle paternity case | Art and design

The remains of Salvador Dalí are due to be exhumed on Thursday evening, almost three decades after his death, to help settle a long-running paternity claim from a 61-year-old fortune-teller who insists she is the Spanish artist’s only child.

Dalí, who died in 1989, is buried in a crypt beneath the museum he designed for himself in his home town of Figueres, Catalonia.

At 8pm, once the last visitors of the day have left the building, the 1.5-tonne stone slab that rests above his grave will be lifted so that experts can get to his body to take DNA samples from his bones and teeth.

To guard the privacy of the enigmatic artist, awnings will be put up around the museum to stop drones recording the exhumation.

The DNA recovered from the remains will then be taken to Madrid and compared with samples from Pilar Abel, who claims to be the result of a liaison her mother had with Dalí in 1955.

Abel has been seeking to prove her parentage for the past 10 years and says the physical resemblance to the surrealist painter is so strong “the only thing I’m missing is a moustache”.

She says it was an open secret in her family that the artist was her biological father.

She told the Spanish newspaper El País that she first learned of her true paternity from the woman she said she had thought was her paternal grandmother.

Abel claims she told her: “I know you aren’t my son’s daughter and that you are the daughter of a great painter, but I love you all the same.” She also noted that her granddaughter was “odd just like your father”.

Under Spanish law, Abel would be heir to a quarter of Dalí’s fortune if the DNA supports her contention.

Pilar Abel, who claims to be the daughter of Salvador Dalí.



Pilar Abel, who claims to be the daughter of Salvador Dalí. Photograph: Juan Medina/Reuters

The Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation, which controls the artist’s lucrative estate, had unsuccessfully sought to fight the exhumation by appealing against a judge’s decision late last month to let it go ahead.

As Dalí bequeathed his properties and fortune to the foundation and the Spanish state, Abel has brought her claims against both.

In 2007, Abel was granted permission to try to extract DNA from skin and hair and hair traces found clinging to Dalí’s death mask. However, the results proved inconclusive.

Another attempt to find DNA was made later the same year, using material supplied by the artist’s friend and biographer, Robert Descharnes.

Although Abel has claimed she never received the results of the second test, Descharnes’s son Nicholas told the Spanish news agency Efe in 2008 that he had learned from the doctor who conducted the tests that they were negative.

Abel told the Spanish news agency Europa Press that she was looking forward “to the truth being known once and for all”, adding: “I’m not nervous but happy and positive.”

The results of the latest DNA test are expected in a month or two.

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Court orders Salvador Dalí’s body be exhumed for paternity test | World news

A Spanish court has ordered the remains of Salvador Dalí to be exhumed from his grandiose self-designed last resting place in an attempt to extract DNA for a paternity claim from a woman born in 1956.

Pilar Abel, a tarot card reader and fortune teller from Girona, a city close to Figueres in north-east Spain where both she and the artist were born, has been trying for 10 years to prove that she is his only child and, therefore, under Spanish law, heir to a quarter of his fortune. Abel claims she was conceived during a secret liaison in 1955 and that her mother, Antonia, told her on several occasions that Dalí was her father. She has said the physical resemblance is so close “the only thing I’m missing is a moustache”.

A court in Madrid said Dalí’s body should be exhumed after previous attempts to establish the truth of her claim failed. “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 ruling said.

Abel’s lawyer said no date had yet been set for the exhumation, but “it could take place as soon as July”.

Pilar Abel claims her mother had a secret liaison with Dalí in 1956.



Pilar Abel claims her mother had a secret liaison with Dalí in 1956. Photograph: RobinTownsend/EPA

The Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation, which controls the artist’s estate, swiftly announced it would appeal in the coming days.

Dalí, who died of heart failure in 1989, was buried in a crypt under the stage of the old theatre in his home town, which he had spent years transforming into a museum to his “own genius”. It is the top tourist attraction in the region, attracting 1.3 million visitors in 2015.

Like every other aspect of his life, there has been much debate about the sexuality of the eccentric artist who painted naked women pierced by chests of drawers and watches melting in the sun, once paraded an anteater on a lead, almost suffocated while promenading in a bronze diving helmet and transformed a model lobster into a telephone, remarking he could never understand why telephones were not preserved in ice buckets and served grilled in restaurants.

Some believe Dalí was gay and once had an affair with the poet Federico García Lorca, others that he had feelings for his only sister Ana Maria. Others, however, believe that his sex life was confined to masturbation and voyeurism. His memoirs are spectacularly unreliable, but his account of his father trying to keep him on the straight and narrow by showing him images of body parts hideously disfigured by venereal disease cannot have helped. He once wrote: “Hitler turned me on in the highest.”

In 1929 he met the formidable Gala, a Russian woman born Elena Ivanovna Diakonova who was 10 years his senior and married to his friend Paul Éluard at the time. They married and she became his muse and business manager, but they never had children, possibly partly because she lived for much of the year in a small castle which he was only allowed to visit in her absence and with her written permission. He was shattered by her death in 1982.

Abel says she was conceived in 1955 when her mother was working for a family in Cadaqués, a fishing village near where Dalí’s family had a holiday home and which is also the setting for many of his paintings. Her mother subsequently left the village and married another man.

According to the Spanish newspaper El País, Abel first learned of her true paternity from the woman she said she thought was her paternal grandmother. Abel claims she told her: “I know you aren’t my son’s daughter and that you are the daughter of a great painter, but I love you all the same.” She also remarked that she was “odd just like your father”.

Abel won permission from the courts in 2007 for an attempt to extract DNA from traces of hair and skin clinging to Dalí’s death mask, but the results proved inconclusive.

Later that year an attempt was made to extract DNA from material supplied by the artist’s friend and biographer, Robert Descharnes. Abel claims she never received the results of the second test, but Descharnes’ son Nicholas told the Spanish news agency Efe in 2008 that he had learned from the doctor who conducted the tests that they were negative.“There is no relationship between this woman and Salvador Dalí,” he said.

Abel’s legal claim is against the Spanish treasury and the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation, because Dalí left the state and the foundation his fortune and properties, including the castle where his wife is buried. The foundation now runs three museums and controls lucrative reproduction and licensing rights for an artist whose work has been endlessly exploited in art and advertising.

This is not Abel’s first recourse to the courts. In 2005, she tried to sue the Spanish writer Javier Cercas for €700,000 (£615,000), arguing that a character in his 2001 novel, Soldiers of Salamis, was based on her and that her reputation had suffered as a result. A judge shelved the case.

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