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Spain Loses Ruling on Salvador Dali Royalties

(CN) - Europe's high court dealt Spain a blow in ruling that France can let Salvador Dali's heirs keep royalties from Dali works sold in France, even though the influential surrealist had willed his entire estate to Spain.

Dalí's 1931 painting "The Persistence of Memory," featuring melting pocket watches over a harsh landscape, is one of the most well-known surrealist work. He died in 1989 at age 84, a widower without children. He willed his entire estate, including artistic creations, to Spain.

A foundation established in Spain to administer royalties from Dalí's work challenged its French counterpart, which distributed its profits to Dalí's five surviving family members. French law allows only heirs to benefit from the inheritance of intellectual property, despite the will of the deceased.

The Court of Justice for the European Union ruled that the guiding principle for copyright inheritance establishes merely that works must be allowed to be sold for 70 years.

The court said member states can decide who gets to benefit from this right.

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