The Mustache Is Intact: Inside the Surreal Overnight Exhumation of Salvador Dalí’s Corpse

According to the Dalí Foundation, the artist’s iconic mustache is still in its “classic ten past ten position.”

Visitors walk around Salvador Dali's tomb inside the Teatre-Museu Dali Photo Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images.
Visitors walk around Salvador Dali's tomb inside the Dalí Theater-Museum. Photo Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images.

In an uncanny development to a surreal sequence of events that has captivated the art world, the remains of Salvador Dalí were exhumed last night, Thursday, July 20, from his resting place under the dome of the Dalí Theater-Museum, located in his hometown of Figueres, Spain.

The art world was shocked when a Spanish psychic first emerged in 2015 claiming to be the legendary artist’s secret daughter. Last month, Pilar Abel Martinez won the right to have the remains of Salvador Dalí exhumed in order that authorities may conduct DNA tests that might conclusively prove her claim.

Spanish national Pilar Abel Martinez, 62, who claimed to Salvador Dali’s daughter poses in Barcelona, on June 26, 2017. Photo Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images.

The Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation, seconded by the Spanish state, appealed the decision on June 30, opposing the exhumation due to be carried out at 9:30 am on July 20. The appeal was not settled, and the exhumation went ahead as planned, with the concession of an altered timeline to factor in the location of the remains inside a working museum, which, during its busy summer season, receives nearly 4,000 visitors daily.

At 8 pm on July 20, a small party was granted access to the Dalí-Theater Museum. Alongside Foundation representatives and a technical team was the Judicial Secretary of Figueres, three representatives of the Forensic Medical Institute, two representatives of the funeral services, and the lawyers of the involved parties.

Mobile phones were hastily confiscated, and white medical tents were erected to keep the tomb shrouded from prying eyes (and camera drones).

In a statement released to the press this morning, the Dalí Foundation described how the tombstone weighing more than one ton was raised with the help of a pulley. Once the tomb was accessed at 10:20 pm, only those whose presence was still necessary were permitted to remain, out of respect for the great artist, as Dalí’s casket was opened and coroners extracted the requisite biological samples, hair, nails, teeth, and two bones.

The Foundation stated that the intervention was undertaken with great care in order to minimize disturbance of the tomb and remains, and to “safeguard—as much as possible—the intimacy and memory of the Master.”

The secretary general of the Dalí Foundation, Lluis Peñuelas confirmed that the artist’s body was embalmed and so kept in good condition. “The mustache preserved its classic ten-past-ten position,”he told El Pais. “Checking it was a very exciting moment.”

Dalí’s remains were then returned the casket and the tombstone was immediately replaced and the judicial intervention concluded, five hours after they began at 8 pm.

(From L) Lawyer of the Gala-Dali Foundation Albert Segura Roda, director of the Dali Museum Montserrat Aguer, secretary general of the Gala-Dali Foundation Lluis Peñuelas and manager of the Gala-Dali Foundation Joan Manuel Sevillano give a press conference outside the museum following the exhumation of Salvador Dali’s remains in Figueras on July 21, 2017. Photo Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images.

At a press conference this morning, the Dalí Foundation declared that while it had agreed to manage the exhumation to ensure it was done with the utmost care, it categorically disapproves of the undertaking.

“[The Foundation] considers the exhumation performed on Salvador Dalí’s remains entirely inappropriate,” said the statement sent to the press, citing the same reasons presented in the judicial review, namely the lack of evidence to support Abel’s claim: the only grounds provided were a notarized statement from a woman who claims to have been a friend of the mother, stating that the latter told her that her daughter’s father was Salvador Dalí.

“Before agreeing to such an invasive act as the exhumation of Salvador Dalí in a museum, the claimant Pilar Abel Martínez—as proposed by the Foundation and the Spanish State—should have been required to carry out a DNA test to compare her DNA with that of her legal father (deceased) or her brother, to thereby obtain all available evidence that she is not their daughter or sister,” the Foundation stated.

After the DNA tests are conducted in Madrid, the Foundation has requested that the remains be returned to Figueres. Results of the DNA test are expected to be announced in early September.

See images of the exhumation process below:

The awning erected around the painter’s tomb in the Dalí Theater-Museum. Photo courtesy the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation.

The awning erected around the painter’s tomb in the Dalí Theater-Museum. Photo courtesy the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation.

A casket is carried inside the Dalí Theater-Museum as forensic examiners arrive for the exhumation of Salvador Dali’s remains in Figueras on July 20, 2017. Photo Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images.

Undertakers take a casket inside the museum after the arrival of forensic examiners for the exhumation of Salvador Dali’s remains in Figueras on July 20, 2017. Photo Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images.

Forensic examiners leave the Dalí Theater-Museum Dali following the exhumation of Salvador Dali’s remains in Figueras on July 20, 2017. Photo Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images.


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