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Category: Business

086. mendes gonçalves-varela martonell

Mendes Gonçalves, Recoleta Cemetery

With most of the production of yerba mate—a traditional, South American bitter tea—originating in Paraguay & Brazil, several foreign companies supplied Argentina’s demand throughout the 20th century. Plaques on the mausoleum are dedicated to the most influential president of the Empresa Mate Laranjeira, native Brazilian Ricardo Mendes Gonçalves:

Mendes Gonçalves, Recoleta Cemetery

Mendes Gonçalves, Recoleta Cemetery

Responsible for the distribution of the Cruz de Malta brand, the main warehouse was located in the neighborhood of Barracas on the edge of San Telmo & La Boca. Although warehouse facilities were later moved outside the city limits, the building still remains & occupies its own city block. It appears to have been purchased & interior renovation is currently underway… lofts or a hotel may be coming soon.

Cruz de Malta, Barracas

Cruz de Malta, Barracas

Cruz de Malta, Barracas

Update (Oct 2009): All the fine iron work has been removed & the restoration project completed. Nothing as fancy as a hotel, the building is now used as office space for HSBC.

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060. herrera-noble

Herrera-Noble, Recoleta Cemetery

Roberto Noble founded Clarín on 28 August 1945 & is currently the most widely distributed newspaper in Argentina with over 400,000 copies printed daily… notable for retaining the tabloid (not broadsheet) layout to this day. The entire first edition was released as a PDF for its 50th anniversary in 2005. Below is that first front page headlining the atomic bomb dropped in Nagasaki & subsequent end of World War II:

Clarín, first edition

After Noble passed away in 1969, his wife—Ernestina Herrera de Noble—has successfully managed the paper. In the 1990s, she branched the company into all types of media. Currently the Grupo Clarín owns:

  • an AM station (Radio Mitre)
  • an FM station (99.9)
  • the AGR publishing facility
  • multiple regional newspapers
  • a national news agency (DyN)
  • the Canal 13 Buenos Aires public tv channel
  • three major cable stations (24-hr news coverage with Todo Noticias, sports coverage with TyC & classic Argie programming with Volver)
  • the Multicanal & Cablevisión cable networks
  • much, much more!

Herrera de Noble appeared in the news in 2002 after being indicted for adopting two children during Argentina’s last military dictatorship (1976-83). The children were up for adoption since their parents had been killed by the government & supposedly figured among the nation’s estimated 30,000 desaparecidos. The trial was later ruled in Herrera de Noble’s favor & charges dropped. But the results weren’t good enough for some people… additional DNA screenings performed in December 2007 proved negative for two families claiming to be birth relatives. Important not only for healing wounds caused by a dictatorship 40 years ago, other families will likely think twice before attempting to claim the enormous fortune of Herrera de Noble.

The adopted children underwent further DNA screening in July 2011, with results compared to the national DNA database of families who had children stolen during the years 1975 & 1976. All results were negative & hopefully the issue has been put to rest. At this point, many feel a formal apology should be issued since President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner & Grupo Clarín have been at odds for years… CFK likely hoped to send Ernestina Herrera de Noble to prison for human rights violations.

The Sociedad Argentina de Actores y Compositores de Música left a beautiful wreath in January 2008 on the anniversary of Noble’s death. During his time as a Representative in Congress, Noble pushed through a 1933 law establishing intellectual property rights.

S.A.D.A.I.C. wreath, Recoleta Cemetery

Ernestina Herrera de Noble passed away on 14 June 2017 at the age of 92. Clarín published an extensive biography of her life & success at the helm of company holdings. Three weeks before she passed away, Herrera de Noble was absolved from another court case backed by CFK’s former government. Ernestina had the last word after all.

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Ernestina Herrera de Noble

Last image published in the online edition of Clarín.

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056. david spinetto ◊

David Spinetto, Recoleta Cemetery

As with most European families, Argentine-born sons were often named after their father, so there are actually two David Spinettos buried here. One was born in Genoa, immigrated to Argentina, & opened the first wholesale fruit & vegetable market within the city limits of Buenos Aires in 1898. Located in the center of town, it did a booming business. David’s plaque is on the left. On his death, the Mercado Spinetto was run by his son-in-law, Juan Sanguinetti… seen on the plaque on the right.

David Spinetto, Recoleta Cemetery
David Spinetto, Recoleta Cemetery

Unfortunately a wave of privatization in the 1990s shut the market down. Today only its shell remains —the interior gutted & occupied by a megachain supermarket:

Mercado Spinetto, Balvanera, Buenos Aires
Mercado Spinetto, Balvanera, Buenos Aires

Son David, born in Argentina, left his mark as well. He became a doctor but instead of practicing, opted for administration. He ran the Hospital Italiano & dedicated his life to promoting Italian culture. It’s not surprising that this spectacular door was imported from Milan in 1912… don’t miss the inscription on the lower left corner:

David Spinetto, Recoleta Cemetery
David Spinetto, Recoleta Cemetery

Magnificently Art Nouveau, the crown of thorns with a serpent intertwined at each corner has been turned into a decorative frame for St. George killing a dragon —a symbolic representation of the devil. St. George was a Christian soldier, born in Turkey & martyred around the year 300. As one of the patron saints of Genoa where the Spinettos hailed from, they pay a spectacular tribute to their homeland. Hands down, this gets my vote for Best Door in the entire cemetery.

David Spinetto, Recoleta Cemetery
David Spinetto, Recoleta Cemetery
David Spinetto, Recoleta Cemetery

The vine design surrounding the exterior cross is repeated inside… although it’s difficult to peek through small gaps in the St. George door. Another Art Nouveau-inspired image visible is a bat just above the altar. A creature of the night, what better animal to watch over the residents of a cemetery?

David Spinetto, Recoleta Cemetery

Update (25 Jul 2020): A reader from Italy (original comment below) has discovered that Milanese sculptors Carlo & Luigi Rigola designed that spectacular door for Palanti. In addition, they did the current doors for the Milan cathedral & many other works inside. An overview of their works together, including funerary sculpture, can be found on this website (in Italian). Grazie Carlo!!

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054. reyes-terrabusi

The three Terrabusi brothers arrived in Buenos Aires from Italy at the end of the 19th century & by 1911 had become entrepreneurs. Their cracker business was so successful that it eventually became one of the leading food companies in Argentina. The original logo depicts a woman walking with an umbrella in one hand & a tin of Terrabusi crackers in the other. Supposedly Ambrosio Terrabusi was sitting in a café one day, saw this girl & invented the logo/company slogan, “Not even the rain stops people from buying Terrabusi crackers.” Thanks to a former blog titled soncosasmias for the story & image below:

Terrabusi logo

Most Argentines over 20-years old identify with the company because of their famous Manón crackers… a staple in every kid’s lunch box:

Galletitas Manón

However, the company did not survive the wave of privatization in the 1990s. Carlos Reyes-Terrabusi sold the company in 1994 to Nabisco which in turn sold it to Kraft. Today, Kraft headquarters in Argentina now occupies what was once the Terrabusi main office. The sale price was a few million dollars, so Carlos now leads a luxurious life dedicated to polo. His team, La Picaza, won the 2007 Argentine Republic Cup. That’s him on the left:

La Picaza

It makes sense that one day he’ll end up in Recoleta Cemetery. The family has a modest, black granite vault from the exterior, but the interior holds a surprise… one of the most beautiful & sensual stained glass panels I’ve seen. Ever. Restoration work is currently being done, so I was able to get a shot with the door removed:

Reyes-Terrabusi, Recoleta Cemetery

Reyes-Terrabusi, Recoleta Cemetery

Reyes-Terrabusi, Recoleta Cemetery

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044. lappas

Naturally, one of the top silversmith families in Argentina has their family tomb in Recoleta Cemetery. They’ve dealt primarily in housewares (jars, vases, cutlery & the like) since 1887, but the font used for the business name is distinctly Art Deco:

Plata Lappas logo

Their largest store is on Avenida Santa Fe with a smaller locale across from Galerías Pacífico on Calle Florida:

Plata Lappas, Avenida Santa Fe

Plata Lappas, Calle Florida

Located on one of the diagonal avenues not far from the center, the Lappas family vault takes a triangular shape. While it may not be covered with silver, the font is easily recognized:

Lappas, Recoleta Cemetery

Lappas, Recoleta Cemetery

Lappas, Recoleta Cemetery

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