Even after his death Salvador Dalí remains a household name, with his art bringing in millions of people into art galleries every year. So to celebrate his 112th birthday we gathered 10 interesting facts from the life of one of the most extravagant personas of the 20th century.

#1 He made a movie with Disney

When you think of Disney, macabre works of Salvador Dalí don’t usually follow immediately. But in 1945, the unlikely collaboration actually happened, when Walt Disney approached Dalí to make a follow-up to the controversial film, “Fantasia”. Salvador’s answer was “Destino“, which unfortunately was shelved until 2003 when it was made available to the public by Disney’s nephew Roy. You can watch it here.

#2 Salvador chose to be expelled from art school

Before the final art history’s exam Dalí has proclaimed that “none of the professors of the school being competent to judge me, I retire”. Yet the real reason was a financial one, as his father said he’ll stop supporting him when he gets a degree.

#3 He made his secretaries millionaires

Not intentionally, though. Dalí didn’t pay normal salaries to his secretaries instead, he gave them commissions. They weren’t worth much at the time but later on, could be cashed out for millions.

#4 Dalí nearly suffocated while giving a lecture

During the London International Surrealist Exhibition in 1936, Dalí gave a lecture in one of those old metal deep-sea diving suits to highlight the idea that he exists in the bottom of the sea of subconsciousness. Yet what he didn’t anticipate is that without oxygen flow to the suit he won’t be able to breathe. Thankfully, poet David Gascoyne and a handy wrench were nearby to save Salvador.

#5 Dalí married his friend’s wife

Dalí met the love of his life Elena Ivanovna Diakonova, better known as Gala in 1929. The tricky bit was that she was already married to the French surrealist poet Paul Eluard. Unsurprisingly that wasn’t a deal breaker to Salvador and it turned into a rather unusual relationship between the three of them until Gala divorced Eluard and married Dalí in 1934. It wasn’t a traditional marriage as both continued to see other people, but they stayed together until Gala’s death in 1968.

#6 Salvador Dalí died before Salvador Dalí was born

9 months before Salvador Dalí was born, Salvador Dalí died. The artist’s older brother bore the same name and according to the parents and later to Dalí himself, he reincarnated into him. Dalí drew many paintings inspired by this thought, one of them, of course being the Portrait of My Dead Brother (1963).

#7 He was attracted to cauliflowers

“Everything ends up in the cauliflower!” That’s all the explanation Salvador gave to the surprised French audience when he showed up in a white Rolls Royce Phantom II filled with 500kg of cauliflowers. As he later explained to the American journalist Mike Wallace, he simply couldn’t resist the “logarithmic curve” of the cauliflower.

#8 Dalí was a sadistic child

When he was a young boy, Salvador experimented with pain and not only on himself. Once, when he was walking on a bridge with his friend, Dalí noticed a gap in the safety railing. Without much hesitation, he pushed his friend through. The boy fell almost 5 meters (16 ft) onto the rocks below and was seriously injured. While the boy’s mother rushed to help her son, Salvador reportedly just watched the whole drama calmly while eating cherries.


#9 He loved money

Sometimes the artist was referred to as Avida Dollars, a nickname that’s an anagram for Salvador Dalí and also a reference to artist’s love for money. As the story goes, Yoko Ono, a widow of John Lenon, offered $10,000 for a strand of hair from Dalí mustache. He accepted the deal, but instead of sending his hair, he sent a blade of grass, because he was scared that Yoko will use it for witchcraft.

#10 He was one of the most prolific famous artists in history

During his career, Dalí produced more than 1500 paintings, and that’s not including his illustrations, short films, sculptures, drawings, performances and more.