Experts remove biological samples from Salvador Dali's body

Associated Press
  

FIGUERES, Spain (AP) -- The Latest on the exhumation of Salvador Dali (all times local):

   11:59 p.m.

Catalonia's High Court says forensic experts have successfully removed biological samples from Salvador Dali's body 27 years after it was embalmed and interred in a museum dedicated to the painter's memory.

The court's statement didn't say which parts of Dali's remains provided the samples. The Justice department for the northeastern Spanish region had previously announced plans to extract four teeth, nails and the marrow of a long bone.

Dali died in 1989 and was buried in Figueres, the town where he was born 84 years earlier. Last month, a Madrid judge ruled that the artist's remains should be exhumed to settle a paternity lawsuit brought by Pilar Abel, a 61 year-old tarot card reader.

On Thursday, technicians started by removing a heavy stone slab that gave access to the crypt with Dali's tomb. A small committee of five people oversaw the opening of the coffin and the removal of biological samples for genetic study. This process took one hour and 20 minutes, officials said.

   The samples will now travel to a forensic lab in Madrid, where an analysis could take weeks.

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   11:50 p.m.

The Spanish woman who claims to be Salvador Dali's daughter is relieved but nervous as forensic experts remove the artists' body from a crypt where it laid for 27 years, her lawyer says.

Enrique Blanquez says that Pilar Abel "is nervous and hopeful" as the DNA test ordered by a judge should allow "99 percent of chances of knowing the truth."

"These tests will be a relief for her because all doubts will disappear," the attorney told reporters.

Abel, who for a while made her living by reading tarot cards on local television, was born 61 years ago in Girona. The city is close to Figueres, the birthplace of Dali and where his body is interred.

She has prompted the exhumation because she wants legal proof that the artist was her biological father after an alleged affair between her mother and Dali.

If proved right, she could claim one fourth of the painter's estate which is now in the hands of a public foundation, Blanquez said.

During a press conference this week, Abel explained how her mother and grandmother told the family secret when Abel was still young. Years later, she confronted the mother by asking: "Is Dali really my father? Because he was a little bit ugly."

"Well, he had a certain thing about him,"Abel says that her mother replied. "Yes, he is your father."

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   11 p.m.

A court spokeswoman says that forensic experts have opened Salvador Dali's coffin to obtain DNA samples that could help settle a paternity lawsuit.

The coffin was opened half an hour after it was lifted from the crypt where Dali's remains have been for the past 27 years, the official with the court administration in northeastern Spain's Catalonia said in an emailed statement. She made the comments anonymously in line with internal rules.

A committee of judges, corners and technicians immediately started working to obtain biological samples that could shed light on whether a 61-year-old tarot card reader, Pilar Abel, is, as she claims, Dali's daughter.

Only five people are handling this part of the process, the official said, in order to reduce the risk of contaminating the DNA samples.

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   8:50 p.m.

A forensic team has entered the Salvador Dali museum in northeastern Spain where the surrealist artist's remains are due to be exhumed to settle a paternity claim brought by a 61- year-old woman.

Tarot card reader Pilar Abel says her mother had an affair with Dali while working as a domestic helper in the northeastern Spanish town of Figueres. A judge granted the exhumation last month to conduct a DNA test.

Four people carrying a coffin entered the Dali Theater Museum on Thursday, one hour after doors closed to visitors.

Technicians need to install a pulley system on scaffolding in order to lift a 1.5-ton stone slab that covers the crypt where painter's embalmed body was interred 27 years ago.

A marquee will also be installed under the museum's glass dome to prevent any photography or video of the process, even from drones.

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   7:10 p.m.

Salvador Dali's eccentric artistic and personal biography is taking yet another bizarre turn with the exhumation of his embalmed remains in order to find genetic samples that could settle whether one of the founding figures of surrealism fathered a girl.

Pilar Abel, a 61-year-old tarot card reader, claims that her mother had an affair with Dali while working as a domestic helper in the northeastern Spanish town of Figueres, where the artist was born and had moved back to with his Russian wife Gala.

After two decades of court battles, a Madrid judge last month granted Abel a DNA test to find out whether her allegations are true. The exhumation begins Thursday night.

Abel says a desire to honor her mother's memory, and not money, were motivating her paternity lawsuit.

   ----

   AP correspondent Aritz Parra contributed from Madrid

   AP-WF-07-20-17 2233GMT

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