It Was A 'Terrible Accident,' Inventor Says Of Journalist's Death Aboard His Sub

Peter Madsen’s private submarine sits on a pier in Copenhagen harbor. The Danish inventor faces a murder charge after Swedish journalist Kim Wall died aboard the sub under mysterious circumstances last month.

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Jens Dresling/AP

Nearly one month since Danish inventor Peter Madsen returned to Copenhagen, rescued alone from his sunken homemade submarine, he appeared in court to explain the death and gruesome burial of the reporter who had been with him when he set out.

Madsen told the court that Swedish journalist Kim Wall, who had accompanied him on the UC3 Nautilus for a planned profile, died when a heavy hatch escaped his grip and fell shut on her head. He said he had climbed through the 155-pound hatch himself and was holding it open for her to follow — then, according to his account related by The Guardian, he lost his footing and heard a sickening thud after it fell.

“It was a terrible accident, a disaster, no doctor could have done anything,” he said in court, according to the British paper. “Kim was severely injured. There was a pool of blood where she landed. I touched her neck, but she had no pulse.”

Judge Anette Burko proved skeptical of Madsen’s account, ruling Tuesday that there was enough evidence to detain him for an additional four weeks on suspicion of murder. The ruling, which also came with an order for psychiatric evaluation, steps up the charges faced by Madsen, who had been in custody on suspicion of negligent manslaughter since shortly after he was rescued by a private boat in mid-August.

He is also accused of mutilating Wall’s body, which washed ashore Aug. 21 as nothing more than a naked torso, stripped of head, arms and legs.

Madsen earlier admitted to having “buried her at sea,” reversing his initial assertion that he had dropped her off safely onshore hours after they set out together on Aug. 10. But as The New York Times reports, he maintained that when he buried her several hours after her death, attaching metal to her body to ensure it sank, her body was “whole.”

“Sinking the Nautilus is not a suitable ending for Kim, so I removed the body and did a funeral at sea, like it’s been done at sea for hundreds of years,” Madsen said Tuesday, adding that he pulled her up through the hatch using rope tied to her legs, according to the Times.

Madsen said it was then that he settled on killing himself.

“I am suicidal at this stage [and] thought a fitting end for Peter Madsen would be on board the Nautilus,” he said, as quoted by Reuters. “I was in a condition where I decided I couldn’t continue the life I had been living.”

But he would relent on that decision less than a day later. He called for help after having opened valves to let water in and scuttle the 60-foot-long sub, which at one time was the largest privately built submarine in the world.

Police have since recovered the vessel and brought it ashore, where they scanned it for secret rooms a week ago.

Peter Madsen, seen around the time he launched his submarine in 2008.

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Hougaard Niels/AP

Since it came to light last month, the case has captured headlines — both in Scandinavia and around the world — and prompted an outpouring of grief for a prolific 30-year-old journalist whose works appeared in publications from the Times and The Guardian to Harper’s Magazine and The Atlantic. She had traveled to North Korea, Uganda and Cuba in pursuit of stories; her family and friends expressed shock that death found her so much closer to home.

“So much of reporting relies on placing a certain amount of trust in the people you are covering, and Kim’s instincts led her to believe that she would be safe. In a parallel reality, one where her subject was more decent, she could have returned with a fascinating story, as she always did — offbeat, insightful, entertaining,” her friend Alexis Okeowo wrote in The New Yorker.

“Instead, we are left with thoughts of what could have been, and a devastating sadness.”

Madsen has denied the charges against him, also pushing back against the suggestion he committed sexual assault against Wall while they were on the sub, according to The Associated Press. All told, Madsen now faces a possible sentence of anywhere from five years to life in prison.

His next court date is scheduled for Oct. 3.

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Episode 628: This Ad's For You

Tom Burrell, ad man.

Courtesy of Tom Burrell

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Courtesy of Tom Burrell

Note: This show originally ran in 2015.

In the early 1960s, the ad world had a one-size-fits-all philosophy. Black people, white people—they all saw the same ads. And while that sounds egalitarian in theory, it often led to hilariously inappropriate ad copy, like: “1842. It was a very good year for beer drinkers.”As Tom Burrell points out, it wasn’t really a good year for black people in the U.S., many of whom were still enslaved.

Tom Burrell was the first black man in Chicago advertising. He realized that this sort of one-size-fits-all marketing wasn’t just tone-deaf, but that it just wouldn’t work as well as it could. He thought there had to be a different way.

Nowadays, marketing is precisely targeted. The targeting is so laser-specific that the ads you see on your Facebook feed practically have an audience of one: You. Tom Burrell started that shift.

Today on the show, the story of the man who transformed the way people think about advertising and how advertisers think about us.

Music: “Low Slung” and “Private Number.” Find us: Twitter/ Facebook.

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Charge Dropped Against W.Va. Reporter Arrested After Questioning HHS Secretary

Prosecutors have dropped a criminal charge against reporter Dan Heyman stemming from his arrest in May after questioning Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.

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John Raby/AP

The Kanawha County Prosecutor’s Office has dropped a criminal charge against a reporter arrested in May after “yelling” questions at Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price in the West Virginia State Capitol.

Dan Heyman a correspondent with the Public News Service, based in Charleston, W.V., was briefly jailed and charged with the “willful disruption of governmental processes,” after trying to question Price who was at the Capitol as part of “a listening tour” on the opioid epidemic.

Violation of the law carries up to six months jail time.

Heyman says he was simply doing his job on May 9 when he asked Price “repeatedly” if domestic violence would qualify as a pre-existing condition under the Republican health care bill for a story he was working on.

“I was yelling out questions, and that was it,” Heyman, said at a news conference after his arrest. Price wasn’t answering and Heyman says he persisted, using his phone as a recording device, “and I reached it out to him past his staffers.”

Video published by The Washington Post shows Heyman being led away in handcuffs by two capitol police officers, but does not capture the questioning.

The criminal complaint accuses Heyman of “aggressively breaching the Secret Service agents to the point where the agents were forced to remove him a couple of times from the area” and “causing a disturbance by yelling questions.”

Price defended the police who arrested Heyman, saying they “did what they felt was appropriate.”

But on Wednesday the prosecutor’s office said in a joint statement with Heyman’s legal team that while his conduct “may have been aggressive journalism” it “was not unlawful and did not violate the law with which he was charged, that is, willfully disrupting a State governmental process or meeting.”

The ACLU of West Virginia called Heyman’s arrest “distressing,” noting in a May blog post that Price is a member of President Trump’s cabinet and the president “has been attempting to undermine the press on a regular basis and resists transparency at every turn.” The post goes on to say, “(t)hose who don’t want transparency in the literal halls of government have no business putting themselves in the political spotlight.”

“I’ve always felt like I didn’t have that much at risk here,” Heyman said Wednesday, noting that the crime he was charged with was a misdemeanor. “But it’s always good to see that people really support a free press and the asking of questions of public officials.”

“I am shocked that I was arrested in the first place but I’m glad I can put this behind me.”

Heyman has previously worked for West Virginia Public Broadcasting and has filed reports for NPR.

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Billy Bragg And Joe Henry On Mountain Stage

Seminal singer-songwriters Billy Bragg and Joe Henry make their duet debut on Mountain Stage, recorded live at the Byham Theater in Pittsburgh, Pa. Reliving the magic of troubadours past, Bragg — the English punk-folker — and Henry — the Grammy Award-winning guitarist and record producer — packed their bags and took a 2,728-mile, 65-hour train ride across America to reconnect with the automotive wanderlust that inspired Hank Williams (“Lonesome Whistle”), Jean Ritchie (“The L&N Don’t Stop Here Any More”) and Huddie Ledbetter (“Midnight Special”).

Although Bragg and Henry recorded these covers on train depot balconies, on loading docks and in cramped tram cars, the 2017 Americana Music Award-nominated Duo/Group of the Year brings the same brawny harmonies and lo-fi attention to detail in this 2016 Mountain Stage performance.

Billy Bragg and Joe Henry’s album collaboration is Shine a Light: Field Recordings from the Great American Railroad, out now via Cooking Vinyl.

SET LIST

  • “Railroad Bill”
  • “In the Pines”
  • “Rock Island Line”
  • “Hobo’s Lullaby”
  • “Railroading on the Great Divide”
  • “Gentle on My Mind”
  • “Midnight Special”

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Prosecutor Says Menendez Did Favors For Friend To Protect His Lavish Lifestyle

Sen. Bob Menendez, center, arrives with his children to court in Newark on Wednesday.

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Seth Wenig/AP

Justice Department prosecutor Peter Koski began his opening arguments in federal court in Newark with a seemingly innocuous story: “A few years ago, a man sent an email requesting a hotel room for a long weekend in Paris.”

But it was hardly a harmless ask, at least in the eyes of the prosecution.

The sender of the email was Sen. Bob Menendez, a Democrat who represents New Jersey. And the recipient was his friend, wealthy Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen, who used his American Express points to pay for the luxury quarters with a view of the street below.

During opening remarks in the Democrat’s corruption trial Wednesday, prosecutors said the Paris hotel room was just one instance in a long-standing bribery scheme between the two men, in which they traded lavish trips and gifts for official government favors.

“Menendez went to bat for Dr. Melgen at the highest levels of our federal government for many years,” Koski said, “because Melgen gave Menendez access to a lifestyle that reads like a travel brochure for the rich and famous.”

But Menendez’s defense attorney Abbe Lowell countered that gift-giving was common in the 25-year friendship between the two men, which he described as evolving from a political connection to a close personal bond. “These two men refer to each other as brothers,” Lowell said of Menendez and Melgen, who often traveled together, sometimes with their families.

The prosecution, Lowell argued, focused on the years between 2006 and 2013 in their case, calling gifts bribes only if they occurred during the time period covered in the indictment. “The problem is that they left out a lot,” he said, of the previous decade and a half the men were friends, “a whole lot.”

During that period, Melgen flew Menendez around on his private jet, shuttling him back and forth from New Jersey to Melgen’s home in the Dominican Republic. (Koski said Menendez was such a frequent passenger on Melgen’s private plane that “one pilot thought it was necessary to stock the kitchen with his favorite brand of bottled water.”) The ophthalmologist also paid for Menendez to travel to Paris and Punta Cana, a resort in the Dominican Republic, and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in political contributions that were beneficial to Menendez.

In return, prosecutors say, Menendez tried to help Melgen settle an $8.9 million debt he owed Medicare for overbilling, secure student and travel visas for Melgen’s girlfriends, and work out a port contract dispute.

“Friends can commit crimes together,” Koski said. “Friends can bribe each other.”

The facts of the case are largely not in dispute — Melgen offered free flights, Menendez took the trips. The question is whether anything illegal occurred, such as a quid pro quo scheme to trade gifts for political favors.

Prosecutors acknowledged that the two men never memorialized their bribery scheme in writing but asked jurors to pay close attention to the timing of events in the case, noting that favors from Menendez were often swiftly followed by offerings from Melgen, or the reverse.

But Lowell predicted that the government would offer “not one scrap” of evidence showing an explicit deal between the two men.

He added that Menendez never enacted laws to enrich Melgen and that all of Menendez’s actions were justified and part of the duties of a senator to represent constituents’ concerns before the executive branch. “That is Congress’ job.”

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EU Court Rejects Bid By Hungary And Slovakia To Avoid Taking Migrants

Europe’s top court has dismissed a legal action by Hungary and Slovakia, which challenged a system that required them to take in refugees. Above, migrants wait to be rescued by a ship in the Mediterranean off the Libyan coast last month.

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Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP/Getty Images

The European Court of Justice has dismissed a legal action by Hungary and Slovakia that challenged a European Union policy requiring them to accept refugees.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said the ruling was “outrageous and irresponsible,” the Associated Press reports, and vowed Hungary would fight any attempts to resettle migrants there without government approval.

At issue is a quota system adopted by the EU to help Italy and Greece amid the 2015 migration crisis. The European Council’s decision in September 2015 provided for 120,000 people “in clear need of international protection” to be relocated from Italy and Greece to other EU member states.

Hungary and Slovakia asked the court to annul the decision.

“We fully respect the verdict of the European Court of Justice,” Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico told outlets including the AP. But he said his government still is not happy with the relocation plan, which he and others from Eastern Europe see as being imposed on their countries by non-elected EU bureaucrats.

The EU Commission is pursuing an “infringement procedure” against Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic for failing to accept refugees. Slovakia has recently agreed to accept a few refugees, so it’s not included in that action.

Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo told the AP that though she was not surprised by the decision, it “absolutely does not change the position of the Polish government with respect to migration policy.”

The EU’s relocation plan — which expires on September 26 — has not been fully executed, in no small part because of some member states’ reluctance to accept migrants.

As Deutsche Welle reports, “Only 24,000 … refugees from Greece and Italy have been transferred to other states. … Under the policy, Hungary is required to take in 1,294 refugees and Slovakia 902.”

It’s not clear what consequences there will be, if any, for member states that refuse to take in migrants.

“Given the tense politics of internal solidarity, it might make more sense for the commission to avoid insisting on the commitment, having made its point,” Elizabeth Collett, the European director of the Migration Policy Institute, toldThe New York Times. “Few E.U. member states have actually met their relocation quota, and most were just a lot more passive about it.”

Amnesty International welcomed the court’s decision.

“Today’s ruling shows that no country can hide from their responsibilities to refugees,” Iverna McGowan, Director of Amnesty’s European Institutions Office, said in a statement. “Slovakia and Hungary have tried to dodge the EU’s system for solidarity, but each country has a role to play in protecting people fleeing violence and persecution.”

The UN’s migration agency reports that 125,860 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea so far this year. That’s less than half the number who arrived during the same time period last year. The agency estimated that 2,537 people have died in 2017 attempting to make the Mediterranean crossing.

In March 2016, the EU made a $7.1 billion deal with Turkey to have that country help alleviate the flow of migrants to EU nations, making Turkey essentially a refugee buffer zone, as NPR’s Lauren Frayer reported at the time.

EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said on Wednesday that arrangement “continues to work and deliver results,” the AP reports.

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NFL's Michael Bennett Says Las Vegas Cop Threatened To Shoot Him In The Head

Michael Bennett of the Seattle Seahawks has accused the Las Vegas police of using excessive force against him last month. Here, Bennett addresses the media before 2014’s Super Bowl XLVIII.

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Seattle Seahawks star defensive end Michael Bennett says he is considering filing a civil rights lawsuit against Las Vegas police after a harrowing encounter last month.

Bennett was in Las Vegas on August 26 to attend the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight. He says that as he was heading to his hotel afterward, he and hundreds of others heard what sounded like gun shots.

“Like many of the people in the area I ran away from the sound, looking for safety,” he writes in a letter he posted to Twitter today. “Las Vegas police officers singled me out and pointed their guns at me for doing nothing more than simply being a black man in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“A police officer ordered me to get on the ground,” Bennett continues. “As I laid on the ground, complying with his commands not to move, he placed his gun near my head and warned me that if I moved he would ‘blow my fucking head off.’ Terrified and confused by what was taking place, a second Officer came over and forcefully jammed his knee into my back making it difficult for me to breathe. They then cinched the handcuffs on my wrists so tight that my fingers went numb.”

Equality. pic.twitter.com/NQ4pJt94AZ

— Michael Bennett (@mosesbread72) September 6, 2017

Bennett says he felt helpless, lying handcuffed on the ground “facing the real-life threat of being killed.”

“All I could think of was ‘I’m going to die for no other reason than I am black and my skin color is somehow a threat,'” he writes.

He says they loaded him into the back of a police car, where he sat “until they apparently realized I was not a thug, a common criminal or ordinary black man but Michael Bennett a famous professional football player.”

TMZ posted video of part of the encounter, which shows an officer handcuffing Bennett on the ground as he protests, “I wasn’t doing nothing!”

A 31-year-old in his ninth season in the NFL, Bennett told ESPN last month that the violence in Charlottesville convinced him to sit during the national anthem for the entirety of the 2017 season. He grew up in Houston and recently announced a campaign to raise relief funds for those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

“I have always held a strong conviction that protesting or standing up for justice is just simply, the right thing to do,” he writes. “[E]quality doesn’t live in this country and no matter how much money you make, what job title you have, or how much you give, when you are seen as a ‘Nigger,’ you will be treated that way.”

Las Vegas police told the Associated Press they were checking casino and police body camera video, as well as written reports.

“Without looking at video footage or reading any reports we can’t say yet what happened,” Officer Jacinto Rivera told the news service.

Bennett has hired prominent civil rights attorney John Burris to explore his legal options, including filing a civil rights lawsuit.

“We think there was an unlawful detention and the use of excessive force, with a gun put to his head,” Burris told the AP. “He was just in the crowd. He doesn’t drink or do drugs. He wasn’t in a fight. He wasn’t resisting. He did nothing more or less than anyone in the crowd.”

Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who started the national anthem protests last season, tweeted his support of Bennett.

“This violation that happened against my Brother Michael Bennett is disgusting and unjust,” he wrote. “I stand with Michael and I stand with the people.”

Bennett says the system failed him. “I can only imagine what Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, and Charleena Lyles felt, he writes.

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Texas Farmers Suffer Extensive Crop Losses In Wake Of Harvey

Rice farmer John Gaulding wades through the roughly 8 inches of water still filling his fields in rural Hamshire, Texas. At its worst, he says, the water was as high as 30-36 inches.

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In south Texas, this was going to be one of the best years farmers had seen in a while. The cotton crop was projected to bring in record prices and even clear out many families’ debts. But the massive rainfall, winds and a slow drying-out process from Harvey have left many farmers overwhelmed and worried.

That includes people like Dave Murrell, whom I meet at AL-T’s Seafood and Steakhouse, a Cajun restaurant in Winnie, Texas, a rural town about an hour east of Houston. The place is packed, even though lunchtime has long come and gone. No one is in a hurry to get back to their fields — they can’t. They’re flooded. Murrell says nearly 400 acres of his rice are totally submerged.

“There is not much we can do,” says Murrell. “We are still waiting for the water to go down so [that] by road we can get into these fields. Our roads cross a gulley out at the farm and the water is still too deep for us to get through it.”

Luckily, Murrell had just harvested some of his rice before Harvey dumped nearly 50 inches here. But fourth-generation cattle and rice farmer Gerald Bauer decided to bring his cows in first, then cut his rice crop. Unfortunately, he says, he miscalculated by one week. In “a normal year, we’re fine,” he says. “But Mother Nature decided we were late this year.”

Adam Leger, who runs an aerial fumigation service with his brother, says they won’t know for weeks if any of their equipment is salvageable. Four of his crop dusters are under water at the local airport.

“I’ve never seen it — nothing like this,” Leger says. “I don’t think anybody in here has seen it.”

It will take months, maybe even a full year, to get final figures on Texas’ agricultural losses to Harvey. But Gene Hall of the Texas Farm Bureau says he’s done some back-of-the-envelope calculations. Roughly, Hall says just looking at cotton, Texas’s No. 2 product, farmers lost at least a fifth of the crop.

“We think that it could be as much as $135 million” in cotton losses, he says.

And Hall says for rice farmers, 20 percent of their crops are still stuck in the ground.

Rice farmer John Gaulding pulls on tall rubber boats up to his knees to get through the water – about 8 inches tall — still filling his fields in Hamshire, Texas, about 9 miles outside of Winnie. At its worst, he says, the water was as high as 30-36 inches.

Gaulding, who’s 71 and took over the rice business from his father, faces a frustrating situation. Rice stalks sit atop his plants, ready for harvest. With each passing day, though, the kernels get drier and drier, while the bottom of the plant remains flooded — too wet to bring in any machinery.

“The sad thing is that out of all the fields we’ve harvested, this is a new variety to us and it had the potential to be our highest-yielding,” Gaulding says.

And unlike other rice producers who will plant a second crop later in the year, Gaulding farms crawfish on this field. The small crustaceans burrowed into the ground to hibernate. He won’t know whether they survived and will reemerge until next spring, possibly adding to his losses.

Farmers in Texas say they feel like the rural families and businesses have been forgotten in the rush to help the cities, especially Houston. They’re even more worried they’ll be left behind as attention turns to south Florida and Hurricane Irma’s likely arrival in a few days.

Right now everyone here is just trying to be patient, like Marcia Bauer, who owns Texas Salt Grass, the local feed store in Winnie. She says half of her monthly income is from credit she gives out.

“And it’s not just me that is being affected. Because we are such a small rural community, a lot of the businesses carry the farmers,” Bauer says.

She sent out her statements the day before the town flooded. Hopefully, she says, the farmers finally got her bill — now that mail service is back up and running.

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Exhumation Shows Spanish Woman Not Salvador Dalí's Daughter, Foundation Says

Salvador Dalí, photographed in 1973, was found not to be the biological father of the woman whose paternity claims led to his body being exhumed, according to his foundation.

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Eustache Cardenas/AP

The results are in for the biological tests of Salvador Dalí and the Spanish woman who claimed to be his daughter — and they show that the surrealist painter was not her father, according to the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation.

Earlier this summer a judge in Madrid ordered that Dalí be exhumed and a DNA test be performed on his bones, after María Pilar Abel Martínez filed a paternity suit claiming her mother had had a secret affair with the artist while working as a maid in the 1950s.

But on Wednesday, the foundation said in a statement that the results showed “the exclusion of Salvador Dalí as the biological father of María Pilar Abel Martínez.”

If paternity had been confirmed, Abel would have been entitled to up to a quarter of his estate, reports The Associated Press.

María Pilar Abel Martínez said she and Salvador Dalí look so much alike, “the only thing missing is the mustache.” DNA testing doesn’t support her claim that she is his daughter.

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Francisco Seco/AP

Abel, born in 1956, has been making claims about Dalí being her father since at least 2007.

NPR’s Lauren Frayer said Abel is “working as a tarot card reader — and claims to resemble Dalí: ‘The only thing missing is the mustache,’ she says,” as The Two-Way reported in June.

The foundation, which manages Dalí’s estate, said the court’s finding came as no surprise, “since at no time has there been any evidence of the veracity of an alleged paternity.”

Contacted by the Spanish newspaper El País, Abel said neither she nor her lawyer had been given the results yet.I do not hide, whatever the result: positive, negative or invalid, I will give a press conference with everyone to explain it.”

In life the eccentric Dalí never failed to shock, and that was the case when his body was pulled from its tomb in July. After nearly 30 years, Dalí’s mustache remained perfectly intact. It was “a miracle,” Narcís Bardalet, the forensic doctor who embalmed Dalí in 1989 and attended the exhumation, said, as The Two-Way reported.

“The mustache preserved its classic 10-past-10 position,” Lluís Peñuelas, secretary-general of the Dalí Foundation, told El País.

The foundation says Dalí’s remains will be returned shortly to his resting place at the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres, Spain.

In its statement, the foundation adds that it “is pleased that this report puts an end to an absurd and artificial controversy.”

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