Juan Carlos Esteban
| Néstor Pinsón

The probate hearings in Uruguay

uring the probate hearings carried out in Argentina, simultaneously take place the court proceedings related to the estate that Carlos Gardel may have in Uruguay.

In fact, Dr. Hugo Máximo Funes, registration No. 2959, with domicile at Dr. Augusto Rodrigues Larreta’s studio, agent for Bertha Gardés, in order to take part in the testamentary proceedings, requires a legalized copy of the holographic will, hand written by the decedent, to start determined proceedings before the authorities of the República Oriental del Uruguay, concerning the estate that Gardel would have in that country (See Probate Hearings, Folio 1367381, pages 20 and 21 of the Record File R. A. year 1935).

In the official presentation of the testamentary document of Montevideo —File No. 35, Fo. 66, No. 747/42— it includes, also, the Birth Certificate, issued on August 23, 1921, issued in Toulouse, coinciding with the voyage made by Bertha Gardés and Anais Beaux to France, paid by her son.

Notwithstanding, the examining magistrate of Montevideo, Dr. Francisco Jurdi Abella, through diplomatic channels requires the Uruguayan vice-consul in Toulouse, Félix Legrand, to follow up on the birth certificate, duly translated and legalized, issued by the Toulouse mayor, Paul Feuga which appears on Folio No. A 103520 of the testamentary record file.

Also it is attached to the same, the certification which attests in the Book of Death Certificates No. 49, Folio No. 298, of June 25, 1935, of the vicarage of the Medellín parish, the death of «C. Gardel born in Argentina, around forty years old, single, son of Berta Gardel’s».

It is signed, attesting to Germán Montoya, priest and ratified by the Governor of the Department of Antioquia, Echeverri Luque, the General Consul of Uruguay in Colombia, Ricardo Santa María (See Folio No. A 211864, of February 29, 1936).

Of course, everything was handled by Diplomatic Mail, what clears out any doubt about “black hands” that would have taken advantage of bona fide naïve judges or corrupt diplomats.

One year ago the President of Uruguay, Gabriel Terra, ordered to file the claim for repatriation of his remains, knowing, via consular, the French nationality of the decedent and the decision of his mother.

Furthermore, on page 937909, Marie Berthe Gardés reiterates the acknowledgement of her motherhood before the Argentine judge, that she repeats in the probate hearings in Uruguay, meaning that: «I do hereby come to begin the Testamentary Proceedings of my son Don Carlos Gardel, whose true name, that will be timely proved, is Charles Romuald Gardés. Here I enclose the holographic will hand written by my son on November 7, 1933».

The holographic will to be legally binding in Uruguay requires to be a public instrument —registered by a Notary Public or an official— (See article No. 1574 of the Civil Code).

However, according to the treaty about International Civil Law of Montevideo of 1889, as exception to the general rule it disposes, in the article No. 44, that the testament or act or public instrument (Escribanía Ibáñez) shall be admitted in all the countries that adhere to the treaty and, is binding for the case, the rule of the article No. 39, part 1, according to which the forms of the Public Instruments are ruled by the law of the place in which it was issued (See Eduardo Vas Ferreira, “Tratado de las Sucesiones” Page 298, ROU).

Judge Abella, in possession of the indispensable elements, opens the testamentary proceedings on March 31, 1936, Folio No. 3462 of Carlos Romuald Gardés, Carlos Gardés or Gardel, stating that it referred to one and only person, as was evidenced in the pertaining documents.

It was given public notice for opposition according to the article No. 307 of the Code about “all those with interest in it”. Nobody turned up; not until today, even existing the most sophisticated devices of identification.

In a 73-year time the file was never made public, nor any supposed victim filed a claim of any nature. But then the legend that even involves the State with a request of DNA test is born, and it turned into a soup opera that is a shame.

Before such evidences, fully in force, never challenged, according to law, a legend spiced with anecdotes («People say...») and a rhetoric with no supported contains is born. Also there are pseudo jurists that mistake, intentionally, a birth certificate, ruled by the Law of February 1879, with a safe-conduct, valid for a year, issued by consulates for those who declare to be Uruguayan, with residence in a foreign country —article No. 82— that would need “support and protection”, after their nationality is checked, according to what is prescribed by article No. 79 of Law No. 3028 of 1906 (Validity of the Attributions of the Consular Agents)


The Uruguayan Judge scrupulously stuck to the valid elements that brought the “Indispensable Probative Effects”: Birth and Death Certificates and Legalized Will (Later with a technical expert opinion).

On April 14, 1937 Judge J. Abella ruled in these terms:

«1) Notwithstanding the section granted to Mr. Máximo Arana, HIS MOTHER BERTHA GARDÉS IS DECLARED HEIR OF THE DECEDENT CARLOS GARDÉS. (COVER SHEET No. 2908)”.

Far from courts there have been lots of feints and moves threatening to re-open claims and DNA tests. Something sort of an adventure tourism that, instead climbing the Aconcagua, modestly decided to camp in Tacuarembó.

When justice passes a sentence, words die.

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