Artist Salvador Dalí's mustache is intact and still in the (in)famous “ten past ten” position.
Dalí died 28 years ago on January 23, 1989, in Figueres, Spain. He was an eccentric and highly imaginative surrealist artist who made quite a splash in the global art world. He married a woman named Elena Ivanovna Diakonova, also known as Gala Dalí. The couple did not have any children.
However, Dalí's estate is now embroiled in a paternity suit, decades after the death of the artist. A 61-year-old woman named María Pilar Abel Martínez claims that Dalí once had an affair with her mother, and that she is the artist's natural daughter. A judge in Madrid ruled that the body of Salvador Dalí be exhumed to settle the paternity case once and for all.
Dalí's remains lay in a crypt underneath his Theater and Museum in Figueres. When his remains were exhumed, people were surprised to find that his famous mustache was as intact as it had been in life.
Narcis Bardalet was the one who embalmed the famous artist's body 28 years ago. He was also part of the exhumation process, which took place in July 20. "I was eager to see him and I was absolutely stunned,” Bardalet related to reporters. “It was like a miracle... his moustache appeared at 10 past 10 exactly and his hair was intact,"
The artist's remains had been mummified upon his death. It was apparently so well-preserved that the famous Dalí's mustache was preserved as well. This mustache had been a defining physical feature for the artist, so much so that people only had to see an image of the mustache itself to identify it as Dalí's.
It took four hours for officials to take DNA samples from Dalí's bones, nails, and teeth. It could take weeks for results to come in. If the tests find that there's a positive match between Dalí and Martínez's DNA, Martínez will likely receive a sizable portion of the artist's vast estate.
Martínez, a tarot card reader, was born in 1956. Her mother, a maid who worked in a house near Dalí's Cadaques home, had openly claimed for a long time that Dalí was Martínez's father. However, many people say that these claims are doubtful.
How do officials handle paternity suits anyway? The suit would require DNA paternity testing, in which experts look for certain markers to determine if the biological connection between two individuals is that of a parent and child. DNA testing is the current and most reliable way to determine parentage. Positive results typically exhibit a 99.99% match between the two individuals, while negative results have a 0% match.
A positive match can be quite powerful. It can compel a judge to make certain rulings in cases like child support, custody, conviction in criminal cases, and—Dalí and Martínez's case—inheritance.
The analysis of Dalí's DNA will take place in a lab in Madrid, and it may take some time for the results to come about. Before then, however, let's pay respects to Dalí's mustache, which, even in death, remained its owner's chief identifier.
Get weekly science updates in your inbox!