Uberto Georgio Alessandro Strozzi

Uberto Georgio Alessandro Strozzi

b: 4 JAN 1900
d: 13 NOV 1982
From The Times, 14 March 1986: "Cousin inherits marquis's millions"

A Scottish woman, aged 89, living in a London nursing home stands to inherit a third share in the £18 million estate of a Florentine marquis she had not seen for more than 40 years, after an Italian court ruling yesterday.

The estate of her cousin, Marquis Uberto Strozzi Sacrati di Mantova, includes a 17th-century house in Florence's Cathedral Square, two farms in Tuscany, land on Elba and works of art. Mrs Rosalind Varley - whose son, John, aged 66, a retired Navy lieutenant-commander, lives at Chilworth, near Guildford - shares the fortune with a cousin, and the widow and children of another cousin, who live in New Zea- land. A court in Florence found Valdemaro Sorri, the adopted son of a Florentine noblewoman, guilty of forging the will of the marquis in favour of his mother and of attempted fraud. He was sentenced to three years' jail. Signor Sorri's lawyer said he would appeal against the decision.

Mrs Varley had not seen the marquis since before the Second World War. Her son said last night: "They saw a lot of each other before the First World War when they were children. "They were first cousins and got on very well, though like all children they had their arguments. In between the wars they saw each other, too, but they were not bosom friends. Families drift apart, you know, and the last time they met was in the late 1930s." During the war the families remained on friendly terms and messages used to get through, but after the war "my mother and he didn't travel much, so they never met again. "

I saw him occasionally after I left the Navy, when my wife and I went to Florence... Although he lived in extravagant property he lived modestly and led a quiet and secluded existence. He was three-quarters English, one-eighth Italian, one-eighth Austrian." Marquis Fabbrizio [Maurizio!!] Burlamacchi, a distant relative of the dead marquis, said the fortune was worth about 40 billion lire. He named the heirs in New Zealand as Scota Steward-Pitts, of Blenheim, New Zealand, and the widow and children of Alexander Steward, living in Wellington. The marquis died in November 1982, apparently without leaving a will, but a letter was later found among his effects leaving his fortune to Signor Sorri's mother, a friend of the dead man. The court this week finally ruled that the letter was a forgery after a three-year legal battle between Signor Sorri and representatives of the Scottish heirs.


JAC Pearce wrote about this event in 2000 - see also 'Gwendoline Steward':

"When Uberto died in 1982 a great problem arose. There appeared to be no will of any sort, although every corner of the great palace behind the cathedral was diligently searched several times over and no doubt all the other villas too -- but there was no trace of a will. It therefore appeared that an intestacy had occurred, so administrators were appointed to deal with the situation. After some months however a claimant to the estate appeared in the person of Signor Sorri, who was following an Italian tradition of forging wills, made possible by the fact that providing a will is a holograph document in the testator's handwriting, it does not need witnessing. In English law, except in extreme circumstances as in a battle or a shipwreck, every will must be witnessed by two witnesses in a formal manner. This so-called will was very cleverly written by Sorri or his agent, and stated that Uberto, in the recollection of a youthful attachment, had left all his property to a certain lady, although the relationship must have been decidedly platonic. Sorri found out about this relationship and adopted the lady as his mother - as one can do in Italy - and she agreed to proceed as far "as the law permitted". The forgery was very cleverly done, as shown by a photograph of the will published in the Florentine papers, carefully written in an elderly scrawl.

Sorri had apparently already done several deals of a dubious nature, and the idea of forging a will is not uncommon, partly because of this defect in the law. A famous example is given in Puccini's delightful opera Gianni Schicchi, itself based on the story of a famous mediaeval rascal to whom Dante gave an honoured place in the Inferno. The chief problem faced by Sorri was how to plant his will, and his solution seemed almost unbelievable. He made friends with an unscrupulous policeman, and together they made an appointment to visit the Strozzi Palace on some pretext. The housekeeper, who had been living in the palace since Uberto died, and had no doubt accompanied many search parties looking for the will, let them in, but also became suspicious, and telephoned my cousin Maurizio Burlamacchi about the visit. Sorri was apparently wearing blue spectacles and a false beard. Maurizio immediately got on his bicycle and raced over to the Palace about half a mile away, then joined the procession of Sorri, the policeman, and the housekeeper, going up and down the numerous galleries and corridors. After some minutes Sorri halted and said "I think I see an envelope lying under that cupboard. I wonder if it is the will." He picked up the envelope, and sure enough the word 'Testamento' was written on it, whereupon Maurizio exclaimed "That is a forgery," and insisted that the envelope be handed over to the police."
Biography
From The Times, 14 March 1986: "Cousin inherits marquis's millions"

A Scottish woman, aged 89, living in a London nursing home stands to inherit a third share in the £18 million estate of a Florentine marquis she had not seen for more than 40 years, after an Italian court ruling yesterday.

The estate of her cousin, Marquis Uberto Strozzi Sacrati di Mantova, includes a 17th-century house in Florence's Cathedral Square, two farms in Tuscany, land on Elba and works of art. Mrs Rosalind Varley - whose son, John, aged 66, a retired Navy lieutenant-commander, lives at Chilworth, near Guildford - shares the fortune with a cousin, and the widow and children of another cousin, who live in New Zea- land. A court in Florence found Valdemaro Sorri, the adopted son of a Florentine noblewoman, guilty of forging the will of the marquis in favour of his mother and of attempted fraud. He was sentenced to three years' jail. Signor Sorri's lawyer said he would appeal against the decision.

Mrs Varley had not seen the marquis since before the Second World War. Her son said last night: "They saw a lot of each other before the First World War when they were children. "They were first cousins and got on very well, though like all children they had their arguments. In between the wars they saw each other, too, but they were not bosom friends. Families drift apart, you know, and the last time they met was in the late 1930s." During the war the families remained on friendly terms and messages used to get through, but after the war "my mother and he didn't travel much, so they never met again. "

I saw him occasionally after I left the Navy, when my wife and I went to Florence... Although he lived in extravagant property he lived modestly and led a quiet and secluded existence. He was three-quarters English, one-eighth Italian, one-eighth Austrian." Marquis Fabbrizio [Maurizio!!] Burlamacchi, a distant relative of the dead marquis, said the fortune was worth about 40 billion lire. He named the heirs in New Zealand as Scota Steward-Pitts, of Blenheim, New Zealand, and the widow and children of Alexander Steward, living in Wellington. The marquis died in November 1982, apparently without leaving a will, but a letter was later found among his effects leaving his fortune to Signor Sorri's mother, a friend of the dead man. The court this week finally ruled that the letter was a forgery after a three-year legal battle between Signor Sorri and representatives of the Scottish heirs.


JAC Pearce wrote about this event in 2000 - see also 'Gwendoline Steward':

"When Uberto died in 1982 a great problem arose. There appeared to be no will of any sort, although every corner of the great palace behind the cathedral was diligently searched several times over and no doubt all the other villas too -- but there was no trace of a will. It therefore appeared that an intestacy had occurred, so administrators were appointed to deal with the situation. After some months however a claimant to the estate appeared in the person of Signor Sorri, who was following an Italian tradition of forging wills, made possible by the fact that providing a will is a holograph document in the testator's handwriting, it does not need witnessing. In English law, except in extreme circumstances as in a battle or a shipwreck, every will must be witnessed by two witnesses in a formal manner. This so-called will was very cleverly written by Sorri or his agent, and stated that Uberto, in the recollection of a youthful attachment, had left all his property to a certain lady, although the relationship must have been decidedly platonic. Sorri found out about this relationship and adopted the lady as his mother - as one can do in Italy - and she agreed to proceed as far "as the law permitted". The forgery was very cleverly done, as shown by a photograph of the will published in the Florentine papers, carefully written in an elderly scrawl.

Sorri had apparently already done several deals of a dubious nature, and the idea of forging a will is not uncommon, partly because of this defect in the law. A famous example is given in Puccini's delightful opera Gianni Schicchi, itself based on the story of a famous mediaeval rascal to whom Dante gave an honoured place in the Inferno. The chief problem faced by Sorri was how to plant his will, and his solution seemed almost unbelievable. He made friends with an unscrupulous policeman, and together they made an appointment to visit the Strozzi Palace on some pretext. The housekeeper, who had been living in the palace since Uberto died, and had no doubt accompanied many search parties looking for the will, let them in, but also became suspicious, and telephoned my cousin Maurizio Burlamacchi about the visit. Sorri was apparently wearing blue spectacles and a false beard. Maurizio immediately got on his bicycle and raced over to the Palace about half a mile away, then joined the procession of Sorri, the policeman, and the housekeeper, going up and down the numerous galleries and corridors. After some minutes Sorri halted and said "I think I see an envelope lying under that cupboard. I wonder if it is the will." He picked up the envelope, and sure enough the word 'Testamento' was written on it, whereupon Maurizio exclaimed "That is a forgery," and insisted that the envelope be handed over to the police."
Facts
  • 4 JAN 1900 - Birth - ; Fiesole
  • 13 NOV 1982 - Death - ; Florence
Ancestors
   
?
 
   
  
  
?
 
Uberto Georgio Alessandro Strozzi
4 JAN 1900 - 13 NOV 1982
  
 
  
 
   
  
  
Florance Marion Skinner
13 AUG 1842 - 12 APR 1918
 
Family Group Sheet - Child
PARENT (M) Massimiliano Georgio Alessandro Strozzi
Birth1841
Death1915
Marriage1897to Gwendoline Maud Catherine Steward
Father?
Mother?
PARENT (F) Gwendoline Maud Catherine Steward
Birth3 APR 1871
Death1956 Buried at the Cemetery in Soffiano in the family chapel next to her husband, her mother Florance and then her two sons G
Marriage1897to Massimiliano Georgio Alessandro Strozzi
FatherWalter Holden Steward
MotherFlorance Marion Skinner
CHILDREN
MGerio Massimiliano Strozzi
Birth29 JAN 1898
Death5 APR 1976Florence
Marriageto Corkos (?)
MUberto Georgio Alessandro Strozzi
Birth4 JAN 1900Fiesole
Death13 NOV 1982Florence
Evidence
[S7132] Maurizio Burlamacchi, letters written to ARJ in 1999, 2000