Salvador Dali once visited a New York restaurant with his pet ocelot, which he tethered to a leg of the table while he ordered coffee. A middle-aged woman later walked by -- and was horror-stricken by the animal.

"What is that?" she cried. "It's only a cat," Dali explained disdainfully. "I've painted it over with an op-art design." Looking again, the woman sighed with relief. "I can see now that's what it is," she said. "At first I thought it was a real ocelot."

["I knew Dali only slightly," the art critic Robert Hughes once recalled. "He held court at the St. Regis in New York, where he favoured new acquaintances with foul gusts of the worst human breath I have ever smelt."]

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