ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. --Thousands each year visit Salvador Dali’s work at the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, but a new exhibit tucked behind a wall are black and white photos of the private Dali. The exhibit opens as a Spanish judge orders Dali’s body exhumed in a paternity lawsuit.
“It’s not Dali performing for the cameras,” says Peter Tush, Curator of Education for The Dali Museum.
The photos are mostly of Dali and his wife Gala married for nearly 50 years until her death.
What do the photos reveal about their relationship at the time? Tush says, “It reveals Dali and his wife were very close.”
In one 1958 photo, the couple had just renewed their vows, in another photo is taken in their bedroom. The couple is often seen on their boat in the Mediterranean near their home in Spain.
The exhibit called “Dali Revealed” are of photos taken by Dali’s secretary Robert Descharnes from the mid-1950’s to the 1960’s…
Tush says, “They seem to be very much in love based on the photos? They were definitely in love.”
The photos are taken around the same time a woman named Pilar Abel Martinez says she was born. Martinez claims Dali is her father.
Dali museum’s curator of education Peter Tush says Dali was devoted to his wife 10 years his senior.
Tush says the photos show the closeness between Dali and his wife. “Incredible intimacy, comfort level he felt with her never felt any other woman. For him Gala was the most important focus of his life,” says Tush.
While Gala had an open marriage, she had other partners. Tush says Dali did not. “He tried to avoid physical contact with others male or female very private,” says Tush.
Still, a Spanish judge has ordered Dali’s body to be exhumed for DNA testing. He died nearly 30 years ago.
“The issue isn’t so much time as preservation and condition of the remains,” says Melissa Pope a cold case manager with the Florida Institute of Forensics Anthropology and Applied Science at USF.
Pope says factors such as moisture and how the body was buried can affect DNA samples but a good sample is possible. Pope says to test the outside and middle of long bones.
“Generally teeth give the better sample,” says Pope.
Is there any reason to believe he would have strayed in the marriage with other women in the 50’s?
Tush says, “No”
In a statement released today by the Dali Foundation in Spain, the group will appeal the exhumation.