BARCELONA, Spain -- Surrealist artist Salvador Dali, who was seriously burned by a fire in the bedroom of his 12th century castle, agreed Thursday to undergo a 'high risk' skin graft operation to save his life.
Surrounded by friends and a notary, Dali, 80, agreed to undergo the operation Friday morning after being advised that otherwise his chances of survival were 'null,' his doctors at El Pilar clinic in Barcelona said.
Officials meanwhile said two investigations have been launched into the circumstances surrounding the fire last Thursday in the castle where Dali has lived in virtual seclusion since the death of his wife Gala two years ago.
The probes followed suggestions from newspapers, art critics and others that authorities look into the overall treatment given the Spanish artist by his small entourage of close associates at the castle.
The investigations are being conducted by a judge in the town of La Bisbal near the castle north of Barcelona and by prosecutors in the regional capital Gerona.
Friends said the fire at his restored 12th century castle apparently was caused by a short-circuit in the bell used by Dali to call his private nurse.
He was rescued from his burning bed by guests at the castle and the fire was quickly extinguished.
Doctors said the operation to replace skin burned in the fire was 'high-risk' but necessary to avoid an infection that probably would be fatal.
'The possibilities for survival of Dali would be null if the burned zones are not eliminated,' said the spokesman for Dali's medical team, Dr. Jose Maria Visa, at a Wednesday night news conference.
Friends of the artist described the skin graft operation as 'long, dificult and delicate.'
Dali will most likely take several weeks to recuperate from the surgery, according to the doctors.
The doctors said Dali was responding well to intravenous treatment to correct chronic malnutrition but said the burns, which covered 18 percent of his body, were a more serious problem.
Dali, who burst into the artistic world in Paris of the 1920s, built his reputation on his outrageous art and eccentric lifestyle. In his heyday his flamboyant personal trademarks included a Mephistophelean moustache and a little red smoking hat.