Salvador Dali’s body was exhumed Thursday, in order to conduct a paternity test. Although the DNA results were the only possible surprise anticipated, what was a shocking discovery was that the late Surrealist’s iconic handlebar mustache was still perfectly intact!
Narcis Bardalet, who had embalmed the artist in 1989, opened the crypt to gather the DNA evidence. He was in shock at the sight of the perfectly preserved mustache, and enthusiastically told BBC Radio, “It was like a miracle.”
“When I took off the silk handkerchief, I was very emotional. I was eager to see him and I was absolutely stunned. It was like a miracle… his moustache appeared at 10 past 10 exactly and his hair was intact.”
The Dali Theater and Museum, in the north-east Spanish city of Figueres, is where the late artist is buried in a crypt. According to the AV Club, they put the theater on “lockdown” to ensure that no photographs would be taken by the media. To ensure top security, this included “a marquee [that] was installed under the museum’s glass dome to prevent any photography or video from drones.”
This all happened because of a paternity lawsuit. A Madrid judge ordered that samples of hair and bone were to be gathered to determine if 61-year-old Maria Pilar Abel Martinez is Dali’s biological daughter. If she is indeed his daughter, she could end up sharing a potentially large estate with the Spanish government. Currently, the Spanish government is solely entitled to the entire Dali estate.
Martinez claims that her mother Antonia, had worked for a family in Cadaques, near where the painter lived, and had an affair with Dali the year before she was born, in 1956. From a young age, she was told by her mother and grandmother that Dali was indeed her father.
Nearly a decade ago, the Daily Mail reported on the story. Martinez recounted that when she had met one of Dali’s friends in Paris, he was taken aback by her exact resemblance to the artist, commenting to her that all she needed was the infamous handlebar mustache, and she would be his mini-me.
It has taken her years to legally get to this place. Not only was it a risk to come out in public claiming to be the daughter of the painter, but her claim is especially fascinating to Dali scholars, as most have claimed he was impotent, and unable to have children.
This ordeal has to potential to be an expensive claim, should she have been wrongly told of Dali’s parentage. If the tarot card reader should not be the biological daughter, she will be responsible for paying for all of the costs of exhuming the body, and the DNA tests.
A lab in Madrid will be testing the DNA and sharing the results in about three weeks.
The Dali Theater and Museum was a vision of the artist. Built upon the ruins of the old theater that was destroyed during the Spanish Civil War, he worked with locals in Figueres to create a spectacular exhibition of his artistic vision and journey.
According to the theater website, “The route around the rooms allows visitors to capture his first artistic experiences, surrealism, nuclear mysticism and his passion for science, guiding them to the works of the last part of his life.”
Dali was not only a heralded artist, but also a cultural figure influencing other artists. While speaking to the Guardian, Alice Cooper professed that the Dali museum is one of his favorite places to visit. He explained that he and the original band members, considered themselves “surrealists.”
Then, he recounted his own experience of working with the artist that he worshipped. Dali had approached him and he said it was “like working with the Beatles.”
“I worked with Dalí for four days in New York in 1974. He did a sculpture of my brain. It’s a brain with a chocolate eclair running down the back, and ants climbing all over it and spelling out ‘Dali and Alice’.”
Have you been following the Dali paternity story? Do you believe that her claim is real?
[Featured Image by George Konig/Keystone Features/Getty Images]