Salvador Dali to Be Exhumed Over 'Clandestine Love'

Maria Pilar Abel Martinez says artist had affair with her mother, wants DNA test
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 26, 2017 10:00 AM CDT
Judge: Exhume Dali's Body for Paternity Test
This Jan. 10, 2011, photo shows a 1953 portrait of Salvador Dali by Philippe Halsman as it hangs in one of the galleries at the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Fla.   (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Truth may be stranger than fiction, and for Salvador Dali, death is proving just as surreal as life. The famous Spanish painter, who has been in eternal repose since 1989, will be exhumed under a Madrid judge's orders so his DNA can be tested in a paternity suit, the BBC reports. The sexagenarian behind the complaint, Maria Pilar Abel Martinez, claims the artist had an affair with her mother, a maid, in the mid-1950s. Per the EFE Spanish news agency, via, the judge said exhuming Dali's remains was "necessary" as there are "no biological remains or personal objects" left from which DNA samples could be taken. Abel, who was born in 1956, first filed the suit in early 2015, the Guardian reported at the time.

Abel claimed in court docs that her mother, identified by a 2015 New York Times article as Antonia Martinez de Haro, and the surrealist painter "had a friendship that developed into clandestine love," despite the fact that at the time of the alleged affair he'd been involved for decades with Gala (aka Elena Ivanovna Diakonova), the woman who became his wife in 1958. Abel has reportedly taken at least two other DNA tests, one in 2007 that was inconclusive and one shortly after in Paris, the results of which she said she never received (the son of a close friend of Dali's claims that test came up negative). What's at stake if Abel, a tarot card reader, is proven correct in her paternity claim: a possible recouping of hundreds of millions of dollars from paintings the artist bestowed on Spain when he died. (A "lavish and erotic" Dali book was republished last year.)

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