Did Salvador Dalí father a secret love child?

Pilar Abel, the woman claiming to be Salvador Dalí's daughter, said Tuesday she wanted to recover her identity more than anything else, a day after the artist's exhumation was ordered.

Did Salvador Dalí father a secret love child?
File photo taken on December 13, 1972 shows Dali in Paris. Photo: AFP

For a decade, the 62-year-old who long worked as a psychic in the northeastern region of Catalonia where Dalí was born, has tried to prove she is the painter's child.

Her paternity claim, however, has raised scepticism, with Dalí biographer Ian Gibson writing in El Pais that he had doubts, saying the artist preferred watching rather than having sex.

But Abel is adamant her mother had a relationship with Dalí, one of the most celebrated and prolific painters of the 20th century, when she worked for his friends in Port Lligat, a tiny fishing hamlet.

The painter lived and worked there for years.

READ MORE: Six surreal facts about the life of Salvador Dalí

Abel told AFP a judge's decision on Monday to exhume Dalí's remains was “a big victory” though she acknowledged there was still a long way to go.    

The Dalí Foundation which manages the artist's estate has said it will appeal.

“At last I would know who I really am and would be recognised,” she said.    

“I don't want his heritage, if it comes so be it, but it's the last thing I want. First of all I want my identity.”

Is there a family resemblance? Pilar Abel believes so. Photo: AFP

Exchanging glances

She said her grandmother first told her she was Dalí's daughter when she was seven or eight years old, and her mother admitted it much later.  

Abel is from the city of Figueras like Dalí, and she said she would see him in the streets often.

“We wouldn't say anything, we would just look at each other. But a glance is worth a thousand words,” she said.  

Notoriously eccentric, Dalí's life was marked as much by the genius of his work than by his own extravagances.  

A question mark has always hung over his sexuality.    

Writing in El Pais, Gibson said he had once spoken to a gay Colombian gallery owner called Carlos Lozano who knew Dalí well and told him the painter was homosexual but incapable of acting on it.

He also said Dalí could not stand anyone touching him, bar his muse and long-time partner Gala.

Lozano recalled orgies at Dalí's house during which the artist would merely watch, Gibson says, adding it was “possible” that he had sex with a woman, though he doubted it “very much.”

But according to Abel's lawyer Enrique Blanquez, the affair was “known in the village, there are people who have testified before a notary.”

By Daniel Bosque /AFP

READ MORE: Salvador Dalí to be exhumed over paternity claim

Photo: AFP


Paul Gauguin’s ‘Mata Mua’ returns to Spain

One of French painter Paul Gauguin's most famous paintings, "Mata Mua", will return to a Madrid museum on Monday following an agreement between the Spanish government and its owner, who took it out of the country.

mata mua madrid
Toward the end of his life, Gauguin spent ten years in French Polynesia, where he completed some of his most famous artwork Painting: Paul Gaugin

The artwork had been on display for two decades at Madrid’s Thyssen-Bornemisza museum but in 2020 when the institution closed because of the pandemic, the painting’s owner Carmen Thyssen moved it to Andorra where she currently lives.

Her decision to take “Mata Mua” to the microstate sandwiched between Spain and France raised fears she would remove other works from her collection which are on display at the museum.

“It is expected that the painting will arrive today,” a spokeswoman for the museum told AFP.


In 1989, Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza bought Mata Mua at the Sotheby’s auction in New York. Painting: Paul Gauguin

The artwork will go back on display to the public “a few days after” Thyssen signs a new agreement with the Spanish state for the lease of her collection, she added. The deal is expected to be signed on Wednesday.

Painted in 1892 in vivid, flat colours, “Mata Mua” depicts two women, one playing the flute and the other listening, set against a lush Tahitian landscape.

It is one of the stars of Thyssen’s collection of several hundred paintings which are on show at the museum, including works by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Claude Monet.

Her collection had initially been displayed at the Madrid museum as part of a free loan agreement signed in February 2002 that was subsequently extended.

But in August 2021 Spain’s culture ministry announced it had reached an agreement with Thyssen to rent the collection from her for 15 years for €97.5 million ($111.5 million), with “preferential acquisition rights on all or part” of the works. The collection includes a Degas, a Hopper and a Monet.

Aside from housing her collection of works, the museum displays the collection of her late husband, Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, the Swiss heir to a powerful industrial lineage who died in Spain in 2002.

The Spanish state bought his collection in 1993 from $350 million, according to the museum.