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Salvador Dalí

Final decision on carve up of Dalí estate in Spain

Attempts to control spread of fakes with thousands seized in New York

A final agreement has been reached between Catalonia’s regional government, the Generalitat, and the government in Madrid, on the distribution of the Catalan surrealist artist, Salvador Dalí’s paintings. The agreement, which was signed in Figueras, a resort on the Costa Brava where Dalí and his wife Gala lived, comes almost ten years after the artist signed a will, and exactly four years after he died, on 22 January 1988. In the main, the agreement formalises a de facto understanding reached by Catalan and Spanish officials in 1990. However, one difference is that now the Dalí-Gala Foundation, with its headquarters in Figueras, will administer all Dalí’s works including jewellery, correspondence and other objects, as well as his paintings and drawings. Other points of the agreement are: that 138 of Dalí’s paintings and all his correspondence will stay in Catalonia; and that ten to fifteen of his paintings will be displayed on a permanent basis in Barcelona’s Museum of Modern Art. After considerable discussion it was decided that fifty-two paintings—including three masterpieces, “The Great Masturbator”, “The Invisible Man” and “Imperial Monument to the Woman Child”—would go to the Reina Sofia Art Centre in Madrid. The decision was controversial as it was opposed by Maria Llorca, the Mayoress of Figueras, on the grounds that handing over the three best paintings to Madrid went against the wishes of the artist as expressed in his will.

With the recent find of four previously unknown notebooks with handwritten entries by Salvador Dalí and an album of erotic drawings, together with many letters and photographs, in Dalí’s house at Port Lligat, the painter’s bequest to the nation has recently been increased. Meanwhile, in a move that is apparently aimed at preventing the sale of forgeries of Dalí’s work, and of his correspondence, which has been a problem in the past, Jordí Sole Tura, Spain’s Minister of Culture, and the Dalí-Gala Foundation have reached a separate agreement to draw up an inventory of the artist’s paintings and correspondence, and to have the latter microfiched and kept in the Reina Sofia. The continuing problem of Dalí fakes was highlighted recently by the seizure by Federal law enforcement agents of 75,000 prints purportedly by Dalí, Picasso and Chagall. Federal officials filed a complaint charging the owners of the prints, Original Artworks Ltd of Island Park, Long Island, with having sold several million dollars-worth of fake limited-edition prints to galleries throughout the United States and Europe. According to a recent report in the New York Times, Mr Leon Amiel, the now-deceased husband of the gallery’s present owner Mrs Hilda Amiel, had already been suspected of supplying fake Dalí prints in 1987. At that time Mr Amiel had said that he had purchased the artworks from publishers in France who had printed them on the basis of contracts with Dalí. According to Mr Amiel most of those contracts gave the French publishers the right to make lithographic reproductions of works by Dalí and all such works were printed on sheets of paper that had been signed by the artist. It seems likely that a similar defence will be employed in the present case.