Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Mussolini's girlfriend's Alfa Romeo


Italian dictator Benito Mussolini gave an Alfa Romeo to his mistress Clara Petacci as a gift. The pair met at Lake Como and planned to seek asylum in Switzerland.

A motorcade they were in, which included a retreating German anti-aircraft unit, was stopped at a roadblock near the town of Dongo on April 27, 1945. The fascist leader and his mistress were both identified before being shot dead and their bodies hung upside down at a petrol station. Petacci’s Alfa Romeo was confiscated and eventually acquired by an American Army Air Corps officer, Major Charles Pettit.

Correspondence between the pair convinced Keno that he had ownership of the historic car.
The vehicle was given a new lease of life in 1970 when it was purchased by Ron Keno of Mohawk, New York for $300. The antiques dealer was eventually put in touch with Franz Spogler, a former Nazi whose job it had been to drive Petacci and Mussolini towards the end of the war.
In late 1978 the partially restored Alfa Romeo was sold by Keno to collector Donnie Morton, of Connecticut, who ultimately passed it to the Imperial Palace Auto Collection. Staff restored and displayed it as part of their holdings of rare automobiles for the next two decades, until it was sold to another long-term owner in 1999.
A no-expenses-spared restoration with Garage Bonfanti followed. The work, which went so far as to recreate replicas of the original dashboard switchgear, reportedly took two years and cost a staggering €500,000 (roughly $625,000 in 2004).
The 1939 Alfa Romeo 6C2500 achieved a high bid of €1.8 million ($2.1 million), but failed to meet its reserve price.