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Maria Pilar Abel, who claims to be the daughter of surrealist Spanish artist Salvador Dali, attends an interview with Reuters in Madrid, Spain July 13, 2017. REUTERS/Juan Medina

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By Alba AsenjoDominguez

MADRID (Reuters) - A woman whose paternity suit has prompted a Spanish court to order the exhumation of surrealist artist Salvador Dali's body said she was simply seeking the truth about her family.

Dali, who died in 1989 aged 84, will be disinterred on July 20 so that DNA samples can be taken after protracted attempts by Maria Pilar Abel to prove she is his daughter.

"(I'm searching) for my identity, to find out who I am. I just want the truth to be known," Abel told Reuters in an interview.

In tears, she added: "I'm not motivated by money. My father deserves more than that."

Abel was born in 1956 in the northern Spanish town of Figueras, where Dali is buried.

Dali was one of the 20th century's most famous artists and is best known for his dream-like surrealist paintings depicting flying tigers and melting clocks, though he also turned his hand to film and sculpture.

He became notorious for his eccentric behaviour and style, such as his trademark sculpted black moustache, and pulled off stunts such as giving a lecture in a deep-sea diving suit, which almost caused him to suffocate.

Dali was married to his lifelong muse, Gala. The couple did not have any children.

Abel, a divorced mother of four who has worked as a clairvoyant for a local Spanish television station, alleges her mother had an affair with Dali in the 1950s and says she found out about the liaison from her grandmother.

She never dared ask the artist, whom she would sometimes come across in their home town, whether he was her father.

"We never spoke but we'd look at each other a lot ... How could I ask him? I was just a girl," Abel said.

Abel launched her paternity claim 11 years ago. The Dali Foundation, which promotes the artist's legacy, has appealed the court's exhumation ruling.

(Reporting by Alba Asenjo Dominguez and Reuters TV; Writing by Sarah White; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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