Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Hair-Raising Exhumation: Dali Dug up for Paternity Suit, Mustache Intact

One of the most iconic pieces of facial hair from the last century was still in "its classic 10-past-10 position," almost 30 years after its wearer was embalmed and buried. That's how Lluis Penuelas, secretary general of the Dali Foundation, described Salvador Dali's impeccably waxed mustache after the surrealist's body was exhumed for DNA testing last week.

His embalmer, Narcis Bardalet, was equally impressed, calling the discovery "a miracle," adding, "Salvador Dali is forever." Whether the artist's genes also live on past his death remains to be seen.

The Temptation of St. Salvador

Dalí's body was exhumed at the request of Pilar Abel, a 61-year-old Tarot card reader, who claims to be Dalí's offspring after the artist had an affair with her mother. She claims the two were lovers in Port Lligat, Spain, where Dalí built a house and Abel's mother worked as a nanny. If the claims are true, Abel could receive part of Dalí's estate, possibly worth hundreds of millions of dollars, which he left to the Spanish state.

Investigators reportedly collected hair, teeth, and nail samples, as well as two long bones from Dalí's corpse, and will return the relics once the DNA testing is completed.

The Persistence of Mustache

Live Science explains why the discovery of Dalí's famous 'stache shouldn't be so surreal:

Hair and nails can stick around for a long time after death. Both are made of keratin, a protein bound together by tight chemical bonds, particularly disulfide bonds, which are strong enough to fend off many of the enzymes that easily degrade other body tissues. Keratin is also insoluble in water, meaning it won't dissolve if the body comes in contact with rainwater or groundwater.

The results of the DNA tests are expected in a few weeks, when we'll find out if the fortune teller was telling the truth about her lineage.

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