DNA test shows Spanish tarot card reader is not Salvador Dali's daughter - and won’t share his fortune
The high-profile paternity claim led to the exhumation of Dali’s embalmed remains so genetic samples could be taken
A DNA test on the exhumed remains of Salvador Dali showed he was not the father of a Spanish psychic claiming to be his illegitimate daughter, the Dali Foundation said.
A court had ordered Dali’s exhumation to settle the paternity suit lodged by Pilar Abel, who would have been entitled to a share of his vast fortune if she was found to be the daughter of the Spanish surrealist artist.
Dali’s DNA samples “prove that Pilar Abel is not the biological daughter of Salvador Dali,” the foundation said in a statement, adding this “puts an end to an absurd and artificial controversy”.
“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.”
The arduous task of the exhumation in July involved removing a slab weighing more than a tonne that covered his tomb at the Dali Theatre-Museum in Figueras in northeastern Spain where the eccentric artist was born.
Forensics experts then removed DNA samples from Dali’s skin, nail and two long bones.
Spain’s Culture Minister, Inigo Mendez de Vigo, said at the time that the procedure “breaks my heart”.
The Dali Foundation’s lawyer, Alber Segura, had warned that Abel could be landed with a big bill if her claims are proven false.
“If Pilar Abel is not Dali’s daughter then we must ask this woman to reimburse the costs of the exhumation,” he said at the time of the exhumation.
Abel, a 61-year-old who long worked as a psychic in Catalonia, claims her mother had a relationship with the artist when she worked in Cadaques, a picturesque Spanish port where the painter lived for years.
If Abel had been confirmed as Dali’s only child, she would have been entitled to 25 per cent of the huge fortune and heritage of one of the most celebrated and prolific painters of the 20th century, according to her lawyer Enrique Blanquez.
Dali’s estate, which includes properties and hundreds of paintings, is entirely in the hands of the Spanish state.
The Foundation said it was worth nearly 400 million euros (US$460 million) at the end of 2016.
In an interview just days after a court ordered the exhumation, Abel said her grandmother had told her she was Dali’s daughter when she was seven or eight years old. Her mother admitted it much later.
Abel is from the city of Figueras, like Dali, and she said she would often see him in the streets.
“We wouldn’t say anything, we would just look at each other. But a glance is worth a thousand words,” she said.
The Dali Foundation said the court decision to order the exhumation was “unusual and unjustified”.
The painter’s remains would be returned to his tomb in the Dali Theatre-Museum.
Miguel Domenech, Dali’s former lawyer and friend, said that the DNA results were “a relief”.
“Dali’s memory is now free of the suspicion that he had a daughter with the mother of this lady,” he added.
Born on May 11, 1904, Dali was one of the most famous artists from the 20th century surrealist period, painting pictures like the melting clocks in the 1931 work The Persistence Of Memory.
He married his wife, Gala, in 1934, and the couple remained together up until her death in 1982.
They had no children and after his death in 1989, aged 84, he left his estate to the Spanish state.