salvador dali
A portrait of Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dali, in 1939. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Carl Van Vechten

A thin, waxed moustache pointing upwards, and a shocked expression on his face – can you guess who I’m talking about?

Click start to play today’s Crossword, where you can spot the famous surrealist Spanish painter Salvador Dali, in one of the clues.

With a career spanning over six decades, Dali is one of the most important figures in modern art. He was an eccentric, through and through, and loved to push the envelope, both personally and professionally. Here are a few interesting facts about him:

1. He believed he was reincarnated

Dali wasn’t the sole Salvador in his family. His father was named Salvador, and so was his older brother, who died just nine months before Dali was born. When he was five years old, his parents took him to his brother’s grave, and told him that he was his brother’s reincarnation. Dali believed this concept right into adulthood, and called his deceased sibling “a first version of myself but conceived too much in the absolute”. In later years, Dali would feature his older brother in his work, like in the 1963 ‘Portrait of My Dead Brother’.

2. He was expelled from art school twice

Dali’s artistic talent was apparent from a young age, and his mother fostered it until she died when he was 16 years old. A rebel from the start, Dali was known for his eccentric behaviour and outrageous dressing sense when he was studying at the Fine Arts Academy in Madrid. However, he never graduated. He was first expelled in 1923, after he participated in a student protest. He then faced a second expulsion right before his final exams in 1926.

3. He duped Yoko Ono

Always ready for a prank, Dali wouldn’t hesitate to even con people. He once duped Japanese multimedia artist Yoko Ono, who wanted Dali to sell her a strand of hair from his infamous moustache. Dali got creative – he sent her a dry blade of grass, and received $10,000 (Dh36,728) for it.

4. He paid in doodles

Dali used his scamming skills to get out of paying for meals at restaurants, too. According to a report by the US-based Museum of Modern Art, whenever he dined with a large group of friends, he would offer to pay the bill. Although he would do this by signing a cheque, he would then doodle on the back, knowing that the cheque would never be cashed in, since his doodles were far more valuable.

5. He built his own museum

In his hometown of Figueres, Dali was asked by the mayor to donate a piece of art to the city museum in 1960. Dali did more than that – he transformed the town’s theatre, which was practically destroyed in the Spanish Civil War, into the Dali Theatre and Museum. Although it opened in 1974, Dali continued to expand the museum and even lived there in his final years. After his death in 1989, he was buried under the theatre stage. Today, the museum still draws crowds of over 1 million visitors a year. It’s home to the largest collection of Dali’s work.

What do you think of this eccentric artist? Play today’s Crossword and tell us at