MADRID — Forensic scientists removed samples of hair, nail and bone from the exhumed body of Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dali (1904-1989) in order to carry out a DNA paternity test, ordered by a Spanish judge in June, the Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation said Friday.
The foundation’s secretary general Lluis Penuelas reiterated how unhappy his institution was with the move.
“This was a very uncomfortable situation for the foundation, and made the whole thing very sad, and not just for us, but for many people who love Salvador Dali,” Spanish media cited Penuelas as saying.
“But the most important thing is that Dali can once again rest in peace now.”
Dali’s embalmed body was “in good condition,” according to the mayor of Figueres, Marta Felip, who was present at the late night exhumation in the Catalonian City’s Dali Theatre and Museum.
“He is well preserved,” she told journalists early Friday in the museum after Dali’s body had been removed from his stone tomb under the museum’s glass dome.
The exhumation for a posthumous paternity lasted some five hours, Europa Press news agency reported, and involved technicians and construction workers who set to work after the museum closed on Thursday evening.
Earlier press reports had said that material primarily from Dali’s teeth had been removed, as the use of chemicals such as formaldehyde in the embalming process degrades DNA samples from other parts of the body.
Pilar Abel Martinez, 61, from the neighboring city of Girona, convinced the judge that Dali should be unearthed in order to find out if she is the artist’s daughter.
The tarot card reader has been claiming since 2007 that she is Dali’s child. She is seeking legal recognition as his daughter, which could also entitle her to portions of his property and rights to his art.
She says her mother was employed in Dali’s household in the mid-1950s and the two had a secret love affair. Dali would have been married to his muse Gala at the time.
The results of the DNA test aren’t expected for at least a month. The judge is expected to issue a ruling on September 18.
Revered for his eccentric works, such as the melting clocks in the 1931 painting “The Persistence of Memory,” and instantly recognizable for his signature handlebar mustache, Dali died of heart failure in 1989 at the age of 84. He was thought to be childless.