More than two decades after the Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dalí died, a woman claiming to be his daughter has lodged a paternity suit, asking for help in obtaining DNA evidence to back her claim.

Pilar Abel, 58, claims that her mother and the artist met in the 1950s when her mother was working for a family that would often spend summers in Cadaqués, close to where Dalí had a home. The pair “had a friendship that developed into clandestine love,” said Abel, in documents presented to a Madrid court. Abel was born in 1956.

At the time, Dalí would have been married to Gala, born Elena Ivanovna Diakonova. The pair married in 1934 and had no children.

Driven by her mother’s repeated comments that she was the daughter of Dalí, Abel took a DNA test in Madrid in 2007, using hair and skin remains that she had obtained from a death mask of the painter. The results were inconclusive.

She then turned to Dalí’s close friend and official biographer, Robert Descharnes. It was agreed that further DNA testing would be carried out in Paris using medical samples that had belonged to Dalí.

Abel said she never received the results of the test. On Thursday, she took her battle to a Madrid court, asking for help in obtaining the results or, if necessary, backing to have another DNA test carried out. If there is insufficient genetic material for the test, the court documents raise the possibility of exhuming Dalí’s remains.

Abel’s legal challenge is filed against the heirs of the painter, specifically Spain’s tax office and public administration, as well as the Dalí Foundation.

In 2008, Descharnes’ son Nicolas refuted Abel’s paternity claim, saying that the doctor who had carried out the paternity tests in Paris had verbally communicated to Abel that the tests were negative.

“There is no relationship between this woman and Salvador Dalí,” he told Spanish agency Efe at the time.

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