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Mussolini’s Car Fetches $107,600

March 11, 1998

GENEVA (AP) _ A car that belonged to the mistress of Italian wartime dictator Benito Mussolini sold for 156,000 Swiss francs ($107,600) at auction Wednesday in Geneva.

The black Fiat 2800 luxury coupe was bought by a Swiss intermediary for an unidentified American collector, said a spokesman for British auctioneers Brooks.

He said the total price, after tax and other costs, will be around 180,000 francs ($124,000). The sale price was toward the upper end of the auctioneers’ estimate, he said.

The car had been in the family of its previous owner, also unidentified, since the vendor’s father-in-law bought it in 1950.

The two-door coupe, with red leather upholstery, is one of perhaps half a dozen surviving examples of the model, according to auctioneers.

Mussolini gave the car to Claretta Petacci as a present in 1940. The dictator himself favored Alfa Romeos. Petacci, who did not drive, was driven by a chaffeur in the Fiat.

The couple tried to flee in the car five years later when Mussolini’s Fascist state was about to collapse. Partisan forces shot the couple to death, hung their bodies on display, and pushed the Fiat into the waters of Lake Garda.

The car was later retrieved and smuggled into neighboring Switzerland, auctioneers said.

It was restored in 1980 and is ``immaculate in every department,″ having covered only 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) since, they said.

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