Forensic experts began the exhumation of Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dali on Thursday (June 20) evening to extract DNA samples in a bid to resolve a long-running paternity claim.
Moustachioed Dali, whose dream-like paintings and eccentric lifestyle made him one of the 20th century’s most famous artists, died in 1989, aged 84.
Maria Pilar Abel, who was born in 1956 in the northern Spanish town of Figueras – Dali’s home town and the place he is buried – has claimed her mother had an affair with the painter and has long sought to prove she is his daughter.
“Following protocol we would also have to extract samples from her mother to verify the maternity, which there is no doubt about. It would be examined, everything would be cross-checked and finally the toxicological Institute would emit a positive or negative result,” Pilar Abel’s lawyer, Enrique Blanquez, said.
Dali’s remains were being disinterred from a crypt under the stage of the domed Theatre-Museum in Figueras, which houses some of his art works and paintings he collected following a court order to exhume the remains in June.
The move has resulted in reactions from tourists and locals.
Spanish Citizen Cesar Marcha, 45, said, “If she has reached this point there must be evidence and proof that it may be true, although that doesn’t mean that it is true. I don’t know if this lady has siblings and they could have checked the DNA of both of them to see if the father is the same or not, in that case, there may be evidence that it’s true.”
Another local resident, Josep Serra, 50, said, Dali wouldn’t mind being in the spotlight once more.
“Dali always made a show of his own life, he was a person who sold himself very well and I believe that he would be delighted with all this media frenzy because after 28 years Dali sees the light again although he’s embalmed,” Serra said.
But some believe Pilar Abel may just be after money.
“That’s one thought you get if you hear about this (that Abel is after money). If she only wants to know if he’s her daddy, she will get the result and it’s fine, but what she will do once she knows it is her dad, then she wants to earn a lot of money,” a tourist from Germany, Utah Enkel said.