Talk about surreal.
The body of eccentric Spanish painter Salvador Dali was exhumed for a paternity test Thursday night -- and the late artist’s trademark mustache was found to be still intact.
Forensic experts said Dali's whiskers remained in the "classic shape of ten past ten,” referring to the positions of hands on a clock.
Spanish experts said they removed the deceased painter’s hair, nails and two long bones to find genetic samples to be used in a paternity test.
Dali was buried in the Dali Museum Theater in the northeastern Spanish town of Figueres, his birthplace, when he died at age 84 in 1989. The exhumation on Thursday followed longstanding claims by Pilar Abel, a 61-year-old tarot card reader, who says her mother had an affair with Dali in the town.
In June, a Madrid judge ruled a DNA test should be performed to find out whether her allegations were true.
Lluis Penuelas Reixach, the secretary general of the Gala Dali Foundation, said during a Friday press conference that Dali’s remains – including his mustache – are well conserved, mummified after the embalming process was applied 27 years ago.
According to judicial authorities, only five people – a judge, three coroners and an assistant – were allowed to oversee the removal of the samples out of respect for the remains and in order to avoid any contamination.
Dali and his Russian wife Gala – whose birth name was Elena Ivanovna Diakonova – had no children of their own, although Gala had a daughter from an earlier marriage to French poet Paul Eluard.
If Abel is proved to be Dali's progeny, she could claim a significant portion of the painter’s estate, which is now in the hands of a public foundation, according to Abel's lawyer Enrique Blanquez. There are no current estimates of the value of that fortune.
If she is proved wrong, the Dali Foundation will seek financial compensation for the costs of the exhumation.
“It’s important for Salvador Dali to be returned to rest in the interior of his museum’s dome,” Penuelas said.
The foundation and the museum of Figueres took steps to make sure no images of the exhumation may emerge in public. Before work in the crypt began on Thursday, mobile phones were put in a deposit and a marquee was installed under the museum’s glass dome to prevent any photography or video from drones.
The biological samples will travel to a forensic laboratory in Madrid for analysis, a process that could take weeks.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.