Of great interest to militaria collectors, lots include historic clothing of Benito Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci, captured during their attempted escape prior to their deaths in April 1945; a handwritten letter by Mussolini; and more.
September 9, 2011 (Newswire.com) - Greg Martin Auctions / Heritage Auctions is proud to present an exceptional three-part event on September 18, 2011, in Dallas, Texas. Among the more than 1020 lots going up for bid are items sure to interest World War II historians and collectors. Several lots feature exceptional provenance related to Italian Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini and his demise in April 1945 in the waning days of World War II. Rare & unique, the lots include the historic clothing ensemble of Benito Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci, captured during their attempted escape, just prior to their deaths; a handwritten letter by Mussolini; and an original WWII typed copy of Mussolini's autopsy.
All three lots come from Mrs. Regina Moriconi of New York, whose late husband, Dr. Paul Moriconi acquired these items - over 65 years ago - with permission with his supervisor, Colonel Charles Poletti of the U.S. Army, shortly after the deaths of Mussolini and his mistress. Dr. Moriconi, then a young Corporal, served as personal secretary to Colonel Poletti, who also was Governor of New York for 29 days in December 1942, before becoming involved in the American war effort. Colonel Poletti and Corporal Moriconi were part of the invasion of Sicily in July 1943 under Lt. General George Patton's Seventh Army. Operation Husky, its code name, was one of the largest combined operations in World War II.
Known as Il Duce from 1925, Mussolini and his mistress were captured near the village of Mezzagra, near Lake Como in Northern Italy, while trying to escape to Switzerland to board a plane for neutral Spain. Hoping to escape observation and capture, Mussolini was driving in a column of German vehicles - his uniform covered by a German greatcoat - but he was stopped at a roadblock and identified by partisans.
Italian partisans soon carried out swift justice on the pair. They were executed on April 28, 1945, at Villa Belmonte in Mezzagra, where they had spent the night after capture.
Mrs. Moriconi explained the unusual story of how her husband came to be in possession of Mussolini and Petacci's suitcase and clothing from the time of their attempted escape and subsequent capture. After the deaths of Mussolini and his mistress, members of the partisan movement, the Committee of National Liberation, came to Colonel Poletti's headquarters in Milan to present him with a brown leather suitcase containing the historic clothing of Mussolini and Petacci, which were second outfits for the couple. Believing the items were the pair's bloodied clothing, Colonel Poletti refused them and suggested to the partisans they keep them for their own museum one day. Feeling sure that Colonel Poletti would change his mind, the partisans left the suitcase in the outer office with Corporal Moriconi. After the partisans left, Paul Moriconi asked Colonel Poletti what he should do with the suitcase and its contents. Colonel Poletti told him that he could do whatever he wanted. Her husband sent them home in mid-1945, and Dr. and Mrs. Moriconi have had them ever since. Indeed, this the first time these items have surfaced and been made available to collectors.
The other items (Mussolini's handwritten letter, photos, Fascist badges and military medals, Fascist arm band and flag) were all items Dr. Moriconi collected while he was in the Army. The military documents were collected through his position as personal secretary to Colonel Poletti. As Mrs. Moriconi says, "These documents serve as an overview of the insurmountable conditions in Italy at the time; the desperation and suffering of the population and their fight for survival, the chaos of government and uncertainty ahead, loss of loved ones, destruction of property and unrest in the population. These documents and letters tell a true story of the suffering of a war-torn country. The reading is a fascinating first-hand account of WWII Italy."
Dr. Moriconi, who passed away in 2010, was a proud recipient of the British Empire Medal for Meritorious Service. His contribution to the Allied Military Government and to the Anglo-American Alliance was recognized by King George V.
Benito Mussolini was a key figure in the creation of Fascism and led the National Fascist Party beginning in 1922. It is estimated he is responsible for the deaths of 400,000 Italians during World War II.
According to Greg Martin, a founder of Greg Martin Auctions, these items represent a very important part of history. "Benito Mussolini was part of the Axis of evil in World War II, along with Adolf Hitler and Hideki Tojo. This global military conflict, which lasted from 1939 - 1945, was the deadliest in human history, resulting in the deaths of over 50-70 million people and the loss of untold treasure," said Mr. Martin. "These Mussolini items - captured during a pivotal moment in world history over 60 years ago and now available for the first time - are truly one-of-a-kind. Their provenance is impeccable. Collectors of militaria and WWII items will find these unique spoils of war to be of exceptional interest."
Here is more information on the Mussolini lots:
- Historic Clothing Ensemble of Italian Dictator Benito Mussolini and His Mistress Clara Petacci, Captured During Their Attempted Escape. Comprising: 1) Original four-pocket grey gabardine wool military tunic and matching riding breeches, marked: L. Beretta & Co., both devoid of insignia and once the property of Benito Mussolini. According to consignor, the stripes and insignia were removed as souvenirs by partisans at the time of the capture. 2) Khaki two-pocket Italian military shirt. 3) Dark rust-colored wool dress belonging to Mussolini's mistress Clara Petacci. All contained in the original brown leather suitcase the clothing was in when captured by Italian partisans. Sold together with several modern photos of the Italian couple depicted in life and death.
This historic ensemble represents the clothing the couple had as a second outfit (they were shot in the clothes they were wearing). The clothing came under the control of Charles Poletti's secretary, Paul Moriconi. It has been the property of the Moriconi family until offered at this time. (Lot 33231. Estimate: $10,000 - 15,000)
- Scarce WWII Holographic Letter by Italian Dictator Benito Mussolini. An authenticated holographic letter of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini to a journalist. The letter was most likely written prior to the Social Republic in 1943-45. It is written on half of a 10 1/2-inch X 7-inch paper that has been folded in half and then into quarters. The stationery has a watermark "P. Milani Fabriano". Mussolini penned this letter in the Italian seaside town of Sengallia, on the Adriatic Sea, east of Florence and San Marino between the towns of Pesaro and Ancona. The letter starts-"Carissimo" [Dear one], Thank you for your kind remembrance. He states that "I write to Milan because they send you [illegible], to those". Mussolini continues to write that he is embracing the seaside. Interpretation is difficult because of Mussolini's handwriting and the inability to read all the words. In the last sentence he says that soon he will return to Rome and signs the letter "Ciao to you and friends, Mussolini". The letter was previously authenticated by Hamilton Galleries of New York (3/14/1980). (Lot 33233. Estimate: $1,000 - 1,500)
- Rare Original WWII Typed Copy of Autopsy of Italian Dictator Benito Mussolini. A complete WWII era copy of the original post-mortem autopsy report conducted by the staff of University of Milan on April 30, 1945, which included Americans Calvin S. Drayer and Dr. Winfred Overholser. Typed copy on onionskin paper, the text in Italian is a basic description of the body of the Italian dictator at the time of autopsy. Mussolini was murdered by anti-fascist partisans on April 28, 1945. A rare historical primary document. This copy was part of the collection of Paul Moriconi, Secretary to Charles Poletti, Former Regional Commissioner, Allied Military Government, Italy. (Lot 33232. Estimate: $500 - 700)
The Mussolini lots will be featured in the Fine Antique Arms and Sporting Guns Collection, Part II, of Greg Martin Auctions / Heritage Auctions' September sale. Part I presents The Al Cali Collection of Important Colt Firearms, featuring over 30 lots if the ultimate condition and desirability, valued at approximately $6 - 7 million. Part III comprises over 700 lots to benefit the National Rifle Association for the NRA Firearms For Freedom Auction that began on August 21.
Greg Martin Auctions / Heritage Auctions' September event will be held at Heritage Auctions' galleries, located at 3500 Maple Avenue, Dallas, Texas. Auction Previews still to come are:
• New York, NY: Through September 11, The Ukrainian Institute at The Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion, 2 East 79th Street (at 5th Ave)
• Dallas, TX: September 16-18, 3500 Maple Avenue
Full-color catalogs of the September event are available from Greg Martin Auctions / Heritage Auctions in San Francisco, Heritage Auctions in Dallas, or at the sale itself. A complete catalog of all items - including full descriptions, estimates and photographs by individual lot - will be available online prior to the sale at www.gregmartinauctions.com and www.HA.com/arms.
Greg Martin Auctions / Heritage Auctions bidders can participate in the events in various ways: onsite in Dallas at the event, via phone bidding and absentee bids. In addition, real-time, Internet bidding through Heritage LIVE!, Heritage's real-time proprietary Internet bidding platform, and Proxibid allow potential buyers online to view a photo of each item as it goes up for sale and to place a bid as selling is underway.
Greg Martin Auctions / Heritage Auctions' next live sale is scheduled for January 2012 in Las Vegas.
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