Under the cover of darkness and amid tight security, the body of the Surrealist master was last (Thursday) night exhumed from its crypt in the Catalan town of Figueres for DNA testing that will prove whether or not Pilar Abel Martínez, 61, is his biological daughter.
Ms Abel, who also hails from Dalí's home town, said she was “relieved” that the moment she has long fought for had finally arrived, and convinced that she would be proved right. "I am very positive," she told a press conference. "I think that it has been long enough."
For more than a decade, Ms Abel has claimed that she is the product of a clandestine love affair between her domestic worker mother and the artist, who was then living with his wife Gala. The fortune teller, who for eight years hosted a tarot-card reading show on local television, is now suing the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation and the Spanish state, which owns his estate, to be recognized as his legal heir. In June, a Madrid judge ruled there was no other way to settle her claim than to raise the artist from his grave, despite loud criticism from those who dismiss her as a money-grabbing fraud.
That is certainly the view of the Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation, which has done everything in its power to resist the exhumation, arguing that the act is humiliating and disrespectful to the legacy of the artist.
Neither is it a simple task. Dali’s body was interred in an elaborate, self-designed resting place: the crypt beneath the stage in his Theatre-Museum in Figueres, sealed with a one and a half ton tombstone. Cranes have been brought in for the operation, while the crypt has been covered with special sheeting to prevent drones spying from overhead.
Ms Abel insists her only desire is to know her true identity, which she claims was revealed to her by her mother and grandmother when she was eight years old. She said she was not motivated by financial gain, adding: "My father deserves more than that".
But she has refused to rule out a claim. Her lawyer Enrique Blanquez said as the artist's daughter, she would be entitled to 25 percent of his vast estate - a matter "that we will deal with when the time comes".