The Controversy Over Arturo Gatti’s Death May Never End

The Controversy Over Arturo Gatti’s Death May Never End
arturo gatti's death

Arturo Gatti

Arturo Gatti, the former world-champion boxer, died violently while on vacation in Brazil, in 2009.  His wife, Amanda Rodrigues Gatti, was arrested for murder, only to be released after the police ruled the death a suicide.  Now, almost four years later, Brazilian authorities have re-opened the investigation and the case may soon return to court.
It’s the latest chapter in a long line of legal struggles that started after Arturo Gatti’s death.  Gatti’s mother, brother, and the mother of his first child have always believed that Rodrigues was responsible for his death.  Gatti was found strangled by Rodrigues’ purse strap, and she reportedly was in the room with his body for ten hours without realizing he was dead.

Rodrigues has consistently maintained that Gatti committed suicide.  She points out that autopsies have been done in both Brazil and Montreal — where the couple lived — and both determined that Gatti killed himself.
Arturo Gatti’s Death

But that has been only part of the controversy.  The other family members waged a two-year long estate battle, accusing Rodrigues of undue influence as to Gatti’s new will, signed only weeks before his death.  The new will left everything to Rodrigues.  The family couldn’t understand why Gatti create a new will two years into his marriage — one that was marred by fighting and even physical abuse at times — just before he died.

They feel his true wishes were captured in a will and trust from 2007 — just prior to his marriage.  But, no signed copies of those documents were ever located.

The Arturo Gatti estate dispute made it’s way to trial in front of a probate judge in Montreal.  In December of 2011, the Judge ruled in Rodrigues’ favor, finding not only that the will was valid, but also that Gatti signed it voluntarily and free of undue influence.  The estate, originally valued at $3.4 million, passed entirely to Rodrigues.  She says she only cleared two million by the time the probate process was over.

Gatti’s mother and brother said they fought so that Gatti’s fortune would pass to his two children — both the son born to Rodrigues as well as a daughter from a prior relationship. Even though they lost, Gatti’s daughter still receives a college fund and trust account that Gatti had previously created for her (and which passed to her outside of his will).

While the Arturo Gatti estate battle has ended, the family may be back at it again if new criminal proceedings are brought based on Gatti’s death.  Reportedly, a court hearing is scheduled in March to address whether the prosecutor will proceed with the case.

The mother of Gatti’s daughter previously filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Rodrigues in New Jersey.  The case was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.  It could likely be filed again in either Montreal or Brazil, but whether that comes to pass may depend on whether a criminal case is brought against Rodrigues. Until a final decision is made about that, Rodrigues and the Gatti family will continue to live with the uncertainty of what will happen.

The CBS show, 48 Hours Mystery, aired an extensive piece on the controversy surrounding Gatti’s death, which you can read about here.  It suggests that there is not sufficient evidence of murder and that Gatti most likely committed suicide.

That’s what Rodrigues has been saying all along.  She recently moved back to Montreal, opened a clothing boutique store, and is trying to get on with her life.  She’s even tried to reach out to Gatti’s mother, hoping to repair the fractured family.

But, Gatti’s mother fears to be alone in the same room with Rodrigues.  Clearly, everyone involved will be anxiously awaiting the decision of the prosecutor in Brazil, to see if charges will be brought.

While a story of a famous athlete who died under mysterious circumstances may not relate to most families, there are still estate planning lessons from this controversy that everyone can learn from.  Gatti signed a will and trust before he married Rodrigues, but those documents were never found.  He then waited years after his wedding to create a new will, only weeks before he died.

These circumstances made the difficulties surrounding his estate much worse.  It is critical for anyone who gets married — especially a second marriage — to update their estate planning documents early, and not wait.  If Gatti had created a new will soon after marrying Rodrigues, there would not have been questions about whether she unduly influenced him.

And, all estate planning documents should be stored in a safe place, where people who you trust can find them after you pass away.  Much of the estate battle centered around what happened to Gatti’s prior documents.  Gatti should have made certain that the trustee of his trust and executor named under his will had access to the documents.

By Danielle and Andrew Mayoras, co-authors of Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!, husband-and-wife legacy expert attorneys, and hosts of the national television special, Trial & Heirs:  Protect Your Family Fortune! For the latest celebrity and high-profile cases, with tips to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your clients, click here to subscribe to The Trial & Heirs Update.  You can “like” them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

Categories: Celebrities, Estate Battles, Estate Planning, Probate Court, Wills
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  • Me

    She killed him, isn’t that clear already…. Greed, money, power…

  • Gatti fan

    The evidence clearly shows there was foul play in his death. Even a blind man could see.

  • jailove1

    She killed him it all comes together.. she was only digging for gold why would he leave his kids out his will…. And everybody knows a purse scrap is not strong enough to support his weight it would have broken

    • Patricia Sordiff

      i agree,a new will 3 wks b4 his death,her purse straps wrapped around his neck,how the hell did he kill himself? wow thats odd,she was there in the room with him,this is so sad

  • Hmong Detective

    Nobody ever escapes from committing murder. Maybe in life but surely not after death. The truth will find its way. She will surely burn, and the gnashing of teeth will never end.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Audieleon-Green/100001582957177 Audieleon Green

    Toughest boxer ever saw,oe tough man RIP

  • agoldengrl

    B***** killed him. She will get hers. Let me just see her once.

  • http://www.facebook.com/randall.colucci Randall Colucci

    When it comes to convicting a female, esp a pretty one, of murder of any degree, all bets are off. They usually get away with it. Hellen Keller couldgave solved this one. She was pprobably servicing the cops down there telling them she’d give them some if the 4 million she woukd get. They are corrupt as he’ll down in Brazil. That’s why that slut made the vacation arrangements for them. Not to mention his will was changed at the last minute, 2 weeks before he was murdered. She couldn’t wait to get his money then, with him dead, shack up w every new guy she could. If this was a husband who lost his wife, he’d be in jail before he took a breath.

    • Patricia Sordiff

      money talks and bullshit walks,so true that ;

  • GrievingForGatti

    The ID channel just showed a documentary of his death last night on their show “Murder in Paradise”. The original detective in Brazil assigned to the case even said he immediately suspected her of murder instead of suicide and that she was even laughing during questioning! Private investigators re-created the hotel room and circumstances surrounding his death and it seemed EXTREMELY clear that there was no way this tiny belt strap could have supported his weight or caused him to fall the way his body was found. When they released his wife from jail, she was even laughing and smiling to the cameras like “Yes, I got away with it!” One of his family members said it best. . .”It wasn’t the perfect crime, it was just the perfect country.” I can’t imagine the frustration and pain his family must be going through. So tragic.

    • Patricia Sordiff

      i agree,she did it,and she planned it,she had him sign the new will,they took there quote unquote,second honeymoon,and wow look oops he killed himself with her short purse straps,thats bullshit,wow i cant believe she was throwing kisses and smiling when she got out of jail just 3 wks after her husband died,i would have been crushed….if i didnt do it that is,this is so sad,he seemed like a great daddy ;(

  • Lannie

    You really think a little thing like her physically choked a professional fighter?

    • Patricia Sordiff

      yes,he was drunk,she probably fed him more drinks and pills,yes,she could have had another guy in the house when he got home,yes i believe she did it,drinking and getting drunk,fucks up your sences,i cant believe you dont think she did it,she is a black widow for sure

  • DilbertDoe

    It’s been proven that he commited suicide, even his brother said he was suicidal. A second autopsy done by a Canadian coroner said it was suicide. Don’t know why people can’t accept the facts.

    • the truth

      has anyone seen the frontline report league in denial…all these nfl players commiting suicide. you people are attacking an entire country,what if it happened in Canada,which also called it a suicide..idiots..his own brother said he was suicidal …all due respect….R.I.P. ARTURO…GOD BLESS TRUE LEGEND

      • Unbiased

        You are delusional… The tramp killed him in his sleep after bashing him in the head

    • Don

      Have you not watch the 48 hours documentary? Clear as day what really happened

  • jpm08

    Watching the documentary on the Crime channel then reading many articles I cannot believe how she has walked away from this. There are so many anomalies, the death itself suicide? Gatti suffered a crushed windpipe, hanging suffocates you it doe not crush the windpipe. The body was positioned on the fall wrongly, to how a hanging man would have fallen. No chair to kick from under him to commit suicide. The blow to the back of the head but no blood trail around the room, his necklace found in boiling water on the stove, the place where is happened a dodge hotel in Brazil Gatti had taste and loved to splash out why would stay in a shanty town in Brazil? The phone call to his manager saying this was a mistake I need to get back to the US. The Will being resigned and leaving his children out of it. The girl was a hooker she knew how to get money but needed help there is a third person to all this. Bank records need checking follow the money trail murder is always about money!

  • Jjjt

    If Brazil couldn’t figure that one out there stupid and that’s not I place I would want to visit. They probably let her get away with the murder, because she was from their and he was not. Poor Gatti,

  • Shineon83

    –Montreal has very excellent and sophisticated pathologists; if these same pathologists ruled this a suicide, it most assuredly is….and has anyone considered the possibility that Gatti made the new will just prior to his death BECAUSE he was depressed?

  • Kristin B

    This is sad! I don’t think for one minute his wife strangled him herself BUT you can bet she had someone there to do it for her! What about the men that approached him in the taxi wanting to fight minutes after him and his wife had a spat on the streets & hours before he died? What if she saw them defending her and later approached them with a proposition after he got back in the taxi and took off? What if she offered them or anyone money to do it since she knew she stood to inherit millions! She’s guilty! And the justice system failed him. She walks around with the smug looks and smiles because she knows she got away with it….

  • Cold world

    She killed him and paid off everyone involved in covering for that ass…Brazil is perfect…