Salvador Dalí with a baby (illustration by the author, Wikimedia source images here and here)

Salvador Dalí with a baby (illustration by the author, Wikimedia source images here and here)

A Spanish court has ordered that the remains of Surrealist artist Salvador Dalí be exhumed to carry out a paternity test. According to the BBC, a Madrid judge ruled that because there are no other known biological remains that could be used to carry out the test, his body would have to be exhumed.

“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 decision read, according to the Guardian.

Maria Pilar Abel Martínez, a tarot card reader who was born in 1956, first publicly claimed to be Dalí’s daughter in 2015. She says her mother had been a maid for a family in Cadaqués in 1955, where the artist was living at the time with his wife Gala Dalí (the Dalís never had children). Martínez says her mother met Dalí and that they “had a friendship that developed into clandestine love,” according to court documents she filed in 2015. Martínez claims her mother repeatedly told her that Dalí was her father.

Though Martínez attempted to conduct two paternity tests in 2007 using hair and skin samples taken from a death mask of the artist, the results were inconclusive. Now, the court’s ruling has set the stage for the artist’s body to be exhumed from its crypt at the Dalí Theater and Museum in Figueres, possibly as early as next month. However, the Dalí Foundation — which runs the museum — plans to appeal the court’s decision.

According to the BBC, if the body is exhumed and the result of the paternity test is positive, Martínez would be entitled to not only use the Dalí name, but could also claim part of the artist’s estate, which he left to the Spanish state.

Salvador Dalí’s crypt at the Dalí Theater and Museum, Figueres, Spain (photo by Michael Lazarev, via Wikimedia Commons)

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Benjamin Sutton

Benjamin Sutton is an art critic, journalist, and curator who lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn. His articles on public art, artist documentaries, the tedium of art fairs, James Franco's obsession with Cindy...