Forensic scientists and legal experts began taking DNA samples from the embalmed body of Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dali on Thursday to try to resolve a paternity claim.
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 — claims her mother had an affair with the painter and has been trying to prove she is his daughter for years.
When Dali died in 1989, aged 84, his body was embalmed by Narcis Bardalet, who told Reuters that attempts to extract DNA were likely to be successful, though “there are also difficulties because (the body) has been embalmed and the formaldehyde could have damaged the nucleus of the cells.”
“Getting the samples, that is, molars, teeth, long bones, in order to extract DNA will be easy, because the body will be in a relatively good condition,” Bardalet said.
Dali’s remains are interred in a crypt under the stage of the domed Theatre-Museum in Figueras, which houses some of his art works and paintings he collected.
The court the samples be taken in June. It may take weeks before the results of the DNA tests are known.