Salvador Dalí’s body exhumed following claims against his Estate by his ‘secret daughter’

Salvador Dalí’s body exhumed following claims against his Estate by his ‘secret daughter’

A dispute over the Estate of infamous surrealist artist Salvador Dalí hit the headlines this week when his body was exhumed on Thursday 20 July, following a claim against his Estate by his alleged daughter, Pilar Abel Martínez.

Ms Abel, 61, a fortune teller who lives close to Dalí ‘s home town, alleges that she is the secret daughter of the artist, conceived during a ‘clandestine love affair’ between her mother and the then married Dalí.

A Spanish Judge ordered DNA testing of his body to settle the high-profile paternity dispute, after DNA tests on his death mask proved inconclusive.

Dalí died in 1989 with no known children. On his death, he left his estate, estimated to be worth as much as €300m, to the Spanish state. If Ms Abel’s paternity is established, she could take the Dalí name and make a claim for a share of his substantial estate.

It is likely that any claim made by Ms Abel will be hotly contested by the Gala Salvador Dalí Foundation, which manages the artist’s Estate on behalf of the State.

It may be several weeks before the results of the DNA testing are announced. If Ms Abel is Dali’s daughter, this could become one of the highest profile probate disputes of recent years.

Ms Abel is presumably confident of the outcome of the exhumation given her profession, but one must wonder why her claim was not asserted earlier. Although claims against an estate by illegitimate or unknown children are not uncommon, particularly if the death is well publicised (as in celebrity cases) and/or the estate is of high value, it is far from standard practice for a Claimant to wait decades to bring the claim. Such a delay is bound to be a factor in any settlement she receives.

For more information please contact Tony Cockayne, Head of the Disputed Wills & Trusts team on 01392 687601 or email