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Death mask could hold key in Dali paternity suit

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Death mask could hold key in Dali paternity suit
Spanish surrealist painter, Salvador Dali. Photo: AFP
13:08 CEST+02:00
A paternity suit brought by a woman claiming to be the daughter of painter Salvador Dali was approved by a judge on Tuesday, paving the way for a DNA test using the surrealist's death mask.

A Madrid court has this week approved a paternity suit by a woman claiming to be the secret love child of renowned Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali, over a quarter of a century after the painter’s death.

The ruling means that DNA testing could be carried out on a death mask of the artist which is said to contain traces of his hair and skin.

If no DNA evidence can be extracted from the mask, the latest ruling could allow for the exhumation of Dali’s body.

In a resolution adopted on April 16th and made public on Tuesday, April 22nd, the judge said, "in view of the data and documents submitted, the applicant meets the requirements to appear in court".

Pilar Abel, 58, an astrologer and tarot card reader, claims that her mother had an affair with the surrealist painter, after a friendship between the pair turned into a secret romance.

She claims the pair met in Port Lliget, the small fishing village where Dali lived and conceived their "secret daughter" who was born on February 1st, 1956. 

Dali had by this time already been with his lifelong muse, Gala, for more than two decades. Dali and Gala were married in a civil cermony in 1934 but after receiving special dispensation from the Pope, (because Gala was a divorcee) they married in a Catholic church in 1958.

The couple stayed together until her death in 1982. Dali lived another seven years.

The court decision is the culmination of years of battling by Abel to be recognized.

Abel’s lawyer, Francesc Bueno, told Spanish daily El País that "all the tests we asked for have been approved".

If she is recognized as Dali’s daughter, Abel will gain the legal right to the artist’s name and copyright, which will have to be acquired through a different suit.

Abel has filed the suit against the Spanish state - specifically the tax office and public administration - as well as the Dalí Foundation, which acts as Dalí's official estate.

They now have 20 days to reply to the claim, after which the DNA tests can take place. 

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