Home Arts & Culture Salvador Dali’s Body Exhumed for Paternity Test

Salvador Dali’s Body Exhumed for Paternity Test

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Salvador Dalí’s body has been exhumed to extract DNA to settle a paternity case.

Spanish forensic experts took samples from the surrealist painter’s teeth, bones and nails in a four-hour operation.

The exhumation followed a court order on behalf of María Pilar Abel Martínez, a woman who says her mother had an affair with the painter.

If María Pilar Abel Martínez is proved right, she could assume part of the Dalí’s estate, currently owned by the Spanish state.

It may take weeks before the results of the tests are known.

Image source Flickr

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Salvador Dalí, who died in 1989 at the age of 85, was buried in a crypt in a museum dedicated to his life and work in Figueres, in north-eastern Spain.

A crowd gathered outside the museum to watch as police escorted the experts into the building on July 20.

The exhumation went ahead despite the objections of the local authorities and the foundation carrying Salvador Dalí’s name, both of which claimed that not enough notice had been given ahead of the exhumation.

María Pilar Abel Martínez, a tarot card reader who was born in 1956, says her mother had an affair with Salvador Dalí during the year before her birth. Her mother, Antonia, had worked for a family that spent time in Cadaqués, near the painter’s home.

Last month a Madrid judge ordered the exhumation to settle the claim. It is contested by the Dalí foundation, which manages the estate of the painter, who was not believed to have had any children.


María Pilar Abel Martínez’s action is against the Spanish state, to which Salvador Dalí left his estate.

She says her mother and paternal grandmother both told her at an early age that Salvador Dalí was her real father.

However, the claim has surprised many, including Ian Gibson, an Irish-born biographer of Salvador Dalí, who said that the notion of the artist having an affair that produced a child was “absolutely impossible”.

“Dalí always boasted: <I’m impotent, you’ve got to be impotent to be a great painter>,” Ian Gibson said.