Judge orders Dali's body to be exhumed

MADRID • A Spanish court ordered the exhumation of the corpse of Salvador Dali to settle a woman's claim to be recognised as the daughter of the surrealist painter.

The court said that DNA testing should be done on Dali's corpse because no other remains or belongings were available that could allow a proper examination to settle the paternity claim.

Ms Pilar Abel, a tarot card reader, wants to be recognised as Dali's daughter, born as a result of what she has called a "clandestine love affair" that her mother had with the painter in the late 1950s in Port Lligat, the fishing village where he and his Russian-born wife, Gala, built a waterfront house.

He was buried in a crypt below the theatre of his hometown, Figueres, which he helped convert into his museum and one of Catalonia's major tourism destinations.

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The foundation that manages the museum and other parts of his estate said it would appeal against the exhumation order, which was decided by a judge from a Madrid court last week, but made public only on Monday.

Dali died in 1989, seven years after Gala, with whom he had an unusual and childless relationship. She moved to a castle overlooking Pubol, another Catalan village, and granted him the right to visit her there only by written invitation.

In his will, he left paintings worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the Spanish state.

Ms Abel filed her lawsuit in 2015, against the Spanish state and the painter's foundation.

In an interview shortly after she took legal action, she said that she wanted recognition as Dali's daughter and "after that, whatever corresponds to me".

At the time, she explained that she filed the lawsuit, rather than her mother, Ms Antonia Martinez de Haro, because her mother was in poor health and had Alzheimer's disease.

Her mother spent several summers in Port Lligat, working mostly as a nanny for different families living near Dali's home.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 28, 2017, with the headline 'Judge orders Dali's body to be exhumed'. Print Edition | Subscribe