A Psychic Has Been Ordered to Pay the Costs of Exhuming Salvador Dalí’s Corpse for a Failed Paternity Test

The uncanny story of Pilar Abel, who had claimed to be the artist's secret daughter, has taken another turn.

Salvador Dali never lost his verve for life. Photo: Pierre Vauthey/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images.

A Spanish court has dismissed an appeal from a psychic who claimed to be Salvador Dalí’s long-lost daughter after DNA results debunked the outlandish theory. Pilar Abel has been ordered to pay for exhuming the surrealist artist’s body three years ago in her quest to prove he was her father.

After the Madrid court ruled that Dalí was not related to her, Abel filed an appeal calling into question how his remains were handled. On Monday May 18, the Regional Court of Madrid dismissed this appeal, and ruled that Abel was liable for the costs for the exhumation. While no amount was cited, the bill had been previously been estimated to be around €7,000 ($7,678).

A statement from the Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí expresses its “satisfaction” with the ruling, which it deems to have “honored” the artist’s memory. “The Dalí Foundation puts an end to this sad episode,” the statement says.

Abel, a tarot card reader and astrologist from the Spanish city of Girona, first filed a paternity suit in 2015. She sued the Spanish state as well as the artist’s foundation, which had inherited his estate when he died in 1989. 

Abel’s mother had worked in Cadaqués, where the Dalí family also had a residence, and allegedly told her daughter that she was the product of an affair with the artist in 1955.

In a bizarre turn of events in 2017, Abel won the right to exhume the artist for hair, nail, and bone samples to be taken for a DNA test. After the results disproved her allegation, she filed the appeal claiming that the “chain of custody” in handling the remains had been interrupted. The court found that Abel gave no basis for this allegation, and said that she only “intended to rouse suspicion” about the “objectivity and capacity” of those working in the public institute that carried out the test.

Abel is entitled to appeal the court’s decision within 20 days, but for now the surrealist artist and his perfectly-preserved moustache can rest in peace. He is buried in a crypt he designed for himself in his hometown of Figueres in the region of Catalonia.

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