Juan Carlos Esteban

The detention of young Gardés

n September 11, 1904 Carlos Gardés was detained in the province of Buenos Aires at the Central Bureau of Identification of La Plata and it was filed under the record 1614, «14 years old, French nationality, and he said he was born in Toulouse».

The detention took place in Florencio Varela because he fled from home. He declared: «Profession: Typographer, Domicile: Uruguay 162, he reads and writes». He was identified on September 12, 1904.

In the publication Nuevo Folletín, nº 3 of 1976, it is added: «We can see, on the facsimile reproduction of the document, the similitude of the graphological features of his signature that remained through the years» (cited in: Primer Diccionario Gardeliano, by José Barcia, Ed. Corregidor 1991, page 186).

In a communication to Ricardo Ostuni, Nelson Bayardo comes to a similar conclusion, but concluding that the authenticity of his signature would back the position of several Uruguayan experts that hold that the detainee in Florencio Varela was Carlos Gardel, but the one born in Uruguay (Repatriación de Gardel, page 97).

We can make a further analysis, according to the data in the police report:
a) The year at issue is 1904.
b) The detainee declares to be and seems to be 14 years old.
c) He declares his French nationality.
d) Beard: beardless (which corresponds to his age).
e) The case is a minor that fled from his home.
f) Policial order: to deliver to his father.
g) Name of his mother: Berta.
h) He declares to be a typographer (studies made at the Colegio Pío IX).

Item b) coincides with Charles Gardes’s age that year, if we take into account that he was born in 1890. Furthermore we have his profession, his mother’s name, his capacity to read and write and his country of origin. However, Bayardo insists on the fact that the detainee was the one born in Tacuarembó (Uruguay). The latter would have subtly assumed Charles Gardés’s identity and in his statement he «played the role» pretending to be Charles.

But according to Avlis the Uruguayan Gardel was born on November 21, 1881 at "nighttime". (El gran desconocido Avlis, page 95 published in 1967). Then, under these circumstances, the detainee would soon be 23. Bayardo gives other dates of birth, but imprecisely (1883/1884). (Dos rostros, N. Bayardo page 74).

Consequently, in the hypothesis of these two authors, we would be talking about a man between 20 and 23 years old, a grown-up, emancipated, free to go out of his home and walk along the streets at will, not depending on either a parent or a guardian. In other words: the opposite of the minor alluded to in the police report.

At this time of the analysis, confusion and mistake turn out ridiculous. So, I think, the figure of the homonym vanishes.

Everything leads to ratify, contrario sensu, that effectively he is only one person —Carlos Gardés— whose birth is filed in the Toulouse record on December 11, 1890, and whose signature and fingerprints are the same as those of the «Uruguayan Gardel», according to Bayardo.

Furthermore, two years later, with the same signature and handwriting that appears on the police document of 1904, whose features he would always keep, he dedicated a photograph to his friend from El Abasto, Pedro Guzzatti. (Photograph Casa El Indio, Montevideo, original owned by the prestigious collector Ángel Olivieri).

The young Gardés at age 16 was unaware of his «captivity» in Ushuaia and did not know that a 25-year-old Uruguayan with his same name also lived in his house with Doña Berthe and who, according to Bayardo, «played the wrong game with Charles».

Of course, Bayardo is not worried when he disregards the difference of 10 years between Charles and his imaginary alter ego.

It is evident that the birth in 1881 that Avlis conjectures and the one in 1883 that Bayardo guesses —both without evidence— destroy any mistaken idea and frustrate the «thesis of the two Gardels», taking into account that the dates of the photographs, and the ones filed in schools and police stations evidence such difference in age that any confusion becomes unbelievable.