On Thursday, the body of Spanish surrealist master Salvador Dali was exhumed. According to experts, his mustache has remained intact after all these years. The process was carried out in order to remove fragments of Dali’s body for a paternity test.
The move opens the possibility for a woman, Maria Pilar Abel. She claims she’s the surrealist artist’s daughter. Maria Pilar also demands part of the Dali estate and to carry his last name.
Ten past ten position
Salvador Dali once said, “Great geniuses produce mediocre children, and I don’t want to go through that experience”. Maria Pilar Abel doesn’t think he kept that word.
The 61-year-old woman says her mother, who was a maid in one of Dali’s seasonal homes in Port Lligat, maintained a clandestine relationship with the artist.
She previously tried to complete a paternity test in 2007 with DNA from belongings her alleged father left behind, but results proved inconclusive.
Abel was born in Figueres in 1956, meaning the affair would have occurred when Dali was 51 and her mother, 25.
Recently, the Madrid Supreme Court agreed there were no other reliable remains. They ruled in favor of Abel to get the paternity test.
A crowd of onlookers gathered outside the elaborate museum of Dali’s work to watch as police escorted the experts into the building. Which is topped by a huge metallic dome decorated with egg shapes. Dali designed the building himself.
A stone slab had to be removed before forensic scientists could access the body. It has been resting in The Dali Theatre and Museum in Figueres since Dali’s death in 1989.
No photos of the process were allowed
The foundation and the museum in Figueres took steps to make sure no images of the exhumation may emerge in public.
Before work in the crypt began on Thursday, phones were put in a deposit and a marquee was installed under the museum’s glass dome to prevent photography.
Lluis Penuelas Reixach, the secretary general of the Gala Dali Foundation, said Dali’s remains were mummified after the embalming process applied 27 years ago.
Narcis Bardalet, the forensic expert who embalmed Dali back in 1989, was at his grave the moment he was exhumed on Thursday night for a DNA test.
He said: “I was very anxious about what I would see. I was absolutely stunned. It was like a miracle… his mustache appeared at 10 past 10 and his hair was intact.”
The biological samples will travel to a forensic laboratory in Madrid for analysis. The whole process that could take weeks.
Not happy about the exhumation
The Salvador Dali Foundation, which runs the museum, vowed to appeal the court ruling back in June, but to no avail.
In a statement, the foundation said that, while it respected the court’s decisions and cooperated with the exhumation, it “considers the exhumation performed on Salvador Dali’s remains entirely inappropriate.”
“There is no evidence that claimant Pilar Abel Martinez’s claim has any legal basis. The only grounds provided constitute a notarial statement from a woman who claims to be a friend of the mother. It stated that the latter told her that her daughter’s father was Salvador Dali,” the Foundation said.
If Abel is confirmed as Dali’s only child, she could be entitled to 25 percent of the huge fortune and heritage of one of the most celebrated and prolific painters of the 20th century, according to her lawyer Enrique Blanquez.
The foundation says it was worth nearly $460 million at the end of 2016. Dali’s estate, which includes properties and hundreds of paintings, is entirely in the hands of the Spanish state.
But the Dali Foundation’s lawyer has indicated Abel could get a big bill if her claims are proven false.
“If Pilar Abel is not Dali’s daughter then we must ask this woman to reimburse the costs of the exhumation,” said Albert Segura.
The eccentric master
Dali, known for his pencil-thin mustache and eclectic persona, is acclaimed for surreal paintings with equally eclectic features, like melting clocks.
Salvador Dali was born in Figueras, Spain in 1904. Dali was pretty marked by the death of his older brother by the same name. This characterized his unique personality and world view.
With a strong character and a penchant for the imaginary world, Salvador naturally turns very young to painting. He discovers painting during a visit to his family, with the impressionist painter Pinchot, in 1916.
In 1927, Dali goes for the first time to the French capital. There, he meets Picasso, who he deeply admires.
Surrealism and Dali
On this trip, Joan Miro would introduce Salvador to the Surrealist group. There, Dali will meet his future wife Gala and André Breton. Dali becomes interested in Freud’s psychoanalytical techniques and creates his “paranoiac-critical” technique.
Dali got politically committed after the Spanish Civil War. He says he wants to return to a more realistic painting while keeping his originality. His themes are war, women, and sex.
Dali will continue to make public noteworthy appearances and, after ten years of work, he opens his own museum in 1974. His latest researches lead him to make paintings of stereoscopic style in 1975. Dali dies in Barcelona in 1989.
He died at the age of 84. He and his wife Gala, whom he wed in 1934, never had children. She died in 1982.
Source: The Washington Post