(Figueres, Spain) – This quiet Spanish town, located just 86 miles from Barcelona, may be closer to solving a mystery that’s 30 years in the making. And that prospect is generating lots of interest – and lots of heat.
Figueres is the birthplace – and the final resting place – of Salvador Dalí, the late surrealist artist.
On August 30, 1984, at Dalí’s castle in Púbol, an electrical fire of unknown origin broke out in his bedroom. The fire caused minimal damage to the castle’s structure and furnishings, but Dalí suffered second-degree burns on his leg and “lower extremities.”
The burns to his “lower extremities” became so famous – or infamous – that a rhyme about the incident became an instant favorite for schoolchildren all over the world:
¡Dalí está quemado en su parte privado!
Translation: Dalí is burned in his “lower extremities”
“In Pamplona, the Running of the Bulls is commemorated each year,” said a resident of Figueres, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Well, here in Figueres, Dalí is our native son, so we have the annual Torching of Dalí to celebrate.
“Since Dalí was so eccentric, we have a man dress up as a painter, singing silly tunes and pretending to paint everything and everyone he sees. Then we get a dummy and burn it in effigy. It’s loads of fun, and a hot time is had by all!”
And for 30 years, the fire’s origin has remained a mystery. But perhaps for not much longer.
Spanish officials have finally reached out for assistance and contacted the United States’ Department of Commerce’s (DOC) National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for assistance with solving the case.
“We’re more than happy to have our Fire Protection Division help out the folks in Figueres,” said a NIST spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity. “If anyone can help solve this troubling event, I’m confident we can.
“In fact, you might say the challenge has lit a fire beneath us.”
NIST staff will be working closely with the Figueres Police Department ‐ who have re-opened an old lead in the case.
“Eyewitnesses placed a large, white, hulking individual near Dalí at the time of the fire,” said a spokesman for the Figueres Police Department, speaking on condition of anonymity. “We have obtained additional evidence that puts the original suspect – Copito – at the scene of the incident.”
Copito – or Copito de Nieve – was an albino gorilla who lived in the Barcelona Zoo. It is well-known that he and Dalí were good friends, but this is the first time evidence has surfaced which places Copito at the castle on that terrible night.
“Copito’s name means ‘Flake of Snow’,” said a Barcelona Zoo spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity. “But some staff noticed some black fur creeping in as Copito got older.”
“This is all well and good,” said a spokesman for the Figueres Police Department, speaking on condition of anonymity, “but how do you explain that a caged gorilla, located over 80 miles away, made his way to Púbol, started a fire in a castle, then left Púbol, travelled another 80 miles, and locked himself back in his cage? Like the rest of this story, it just makes no sense.”
When asked why the Figueres Police Department hadn’t also asked for help from the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigations), the spokesman announced that the allegation was simply untrue.
“We did contact the FBI,” said the Figueres Police Department spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity. “They refused to assist. Apparently, they don’t like to get involved where monkey business is concerned.”