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Gatti had the only signed copy of a missing will, court hears

Arturo Gatti looks on against Carlos Baldomir during their WBC/IBA Welterweight Championship fight at Boardwalk Hall July 22, 2006 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Former world champion boxer Arturo Gatti, aged 37, was found dead in a hotel room in Brazil in 2009.

Al Bello/Getty Images/Al Bello/Getty Images

A civil dispute over the estate of boxer Arturo Gatti has heard that he had the only signed copy of a 2007 will that left his fortune to his family – a document that has not been found.

What happened to that document remains a mystery and is central to a Quebec legal battle over Mr. Gatti's $3.4-million fortune, pitting his wife Amanda Rodrigues against his mother and younger brother.

The Gatti family claims that the 2007 will – one that leaves everything to his family – is the valid will. But they can't find the signed copy.

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They say the boxer was later forced to sign a will that leaves everything to Ms. Rodrigues. The document was signed just weeks before his death at a Brazilian resort in July, 2009.

On Monday, a New Jersey lawyer, his associate, an office manager and Mr. Gatti's financial advisor all testified that the late boxer signed a will in April, 2007, days before getting engaged to Ms. Rodrigues.

Lawyer Gilbert Levine told Quebec Superior Court that Mr. Gatti signed the document as well as a trust document during a meeting at Mr. Levine's office on April 26, 2007.

"Mr. Gatti would have taken the original will with him and I advise clients to put it in a fire-proof place," Mr. Levine testified.

That was the last time that will was seen. It isn't clear what happened to it.

Mr. Levine said it isn't policy for a lawyer or notary to keep a signed copy of a will and he did not file one with a New Jersey will registry.

The civil trial being presided over by Justice Claudine Roy is entering its final week of hearing witnesses.

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The case has been overshadowed by things happening outside the Montreal courtroom: A wrongful-death suit launched in New Jersey; a privately financed report declaring Mr. Gatti's death a homicide, and a commitment from Brazilian authorities to take a second look at the case.

The boxer's family does not accept the conclusion of Brazilian authorities that he committed suicide. But several documentaries aired last month painted Mr. Gatti as suicidal and depressed for years leading up to his death.

The Gatti family has said their preference is that the fortune be split equally between Mr. Gatti's child with Ms. Rodrigues and his child from a previous relationship.

The two sides appeared close to an agreement on a settlement, but it never materialized.

Final arguments in the civil case are scheduled for mid-October.

The Canadian Press

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