ITALY: Purged Ghost

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In Paris last week for an "indefinite stay" was elegant, hollow-eyed Margherita Sarfatti, once a great personal friend and professional colleague of Benito Mussolini, now in disgrace in Italy because her family, although old honored and Venetian, is also Jewish. Margherita and Benito met when she was art critic and he editor of the Socialist Avanti in Milan, long before he became famous. Through the comparatively tranquil late '20s and up until 1935, when the Duce made most of his private income by writing for the Hearst newspapers, Madame Sarfatti was his "ghost" and manager. When the Dictator wanted a raise from Hearst, she helped to negotiate it, sometimes by arranging improved treatment for Hearstmen in Italy.

She was also Mussolini's official biographer and for many years his closest feminine confidante—though by no means the only one. Her influence waned when her old friend decided to pal around with Jew-tormenting Adolf Hitler, whom she detests. Now all her Government sinecures have been withdrawn, but last week she insisted to International News Service: "I have not been exiled. . . . Please make it clear. . . ."