Salvador Dalí was not only an excellent artist, but he was also an excellent salesman.
Salvador Dalí is remembered for his surrealistic works and eccentric personality. Around his figure, there are as many anecdotes as paintings and sculptures. Here is a unique story related to another controversial character in pop culture and the art world: Yoko Ono.
Salvador Dalí possessed a strong personality that could often be mistaken for madness, although many claim that this personality was actually an invented character that allowed him to sell himself (and his more than 1,500 works of art) at a better price. However, this fact does not change much in his own history, whether invented or not, he went down in the history books along with his extravagant ideas, impeccable attire, sharp look, and of course his distinctive mustache.
Amanda Lear was a young French model and singer who won the affection and admiration of Dalí in the last decades of his life. Even the painter came to consider her his muse and his “spiritual wife.” Dalí took her on trips with his wife Gala and taught her as much as he could about the art scene in Europe until the day of his passing. The two met in 1965 thanks to a mutual friend, Brian Jones, guitarist of The Rolling Stones; she was 18 years old, and he was 61.
Being Lear so close to Dalí, she witnessed countless anecdotes and eccentricities, especially with other artists and celebrities. Such is the time when the conceptual artist Yoko Ono, wife of the famous British musician John Lennon, asked Salvador Dalí for some of his mustache hair on the pretext of incorporating it into one of her works. Dalí felt a little uncomfortable because he believed that Yoko Ono practiced black magic rites and did not want to expose himself to any of them by giving her such a personal “item.”
He also did not want to refuse the check offered by the artist. So he decided to dye some dried grass and sent it to Yoko Ono as if it were the fibers of his unique mustache. Lear recalled this in an interview with VSD Magazine: “throughout his life, Dalí could never resist a check. He once sold a hair from his mustache to Yoko Ono. Well, almost, because Dalí thought Yoko Ono was a witch and could use it for some kind of incantation. He didn’t want to send her a personal object, much less one of his hair. So she sent me out to the garden in search of some strands of dried grass and sent it to her in a nice gift box. That id$%t paid $10,000 for it. She got a kick out of ripping people off.”
It was not the first time that Dalí's superstition made him make strange decisions. It is well known that the painter used to carry a piece of wood as protection. While Yoko Ono never commented on this scam, neither have there been any accusations against her about esoteric matters. The closest she ever came to performing a ritual was a performance art piece, Lighting Piece, in which she would light a candle and watch it burn. It was something she enjoyed doing since she was a child, because of the peace it brought her. Still, nothing is known about Dalí's work with a “mustache” (or grass).
Story originally published in Spanish in Cultura Colectiva