Grosse Pointe Shores — The Edsel and Eleanor Ford House sold a painting by French artist Paul Cézanne last year to a private buyer for $100 million, and the blockbuster deal was not publicized in order to prevent trouble for the Detroit Institute of Arts as it defended its collection from creditors in Detroit's bankruptcy trial.
The sale of "La Montagne Sainte-Victoire vue du bosquet du Château Noir" was confirmed Friday by officials of the nonprofit cultural institution, which is based out of the Grosse Pointe Shores mansion where Edsel and Eleanor Ford once lived.
The buyer of the post-impressionist painting, created in 1904, was not revealed. Tax forms listing the sale also show the Fords originally bought the painting for $242,000. It was not clear when the Ford's purchased the Cezanne painting. Edsel was the son of Henry Ford, the founder of Ford Motor Co.
Officials chose to keep quiet the purchase in order not to cause any issues with the Detroit Institute of Arts as it fended off bankruptcy creditors in the Detroit bankruptcy trial, confirmed Ford House spokeswoman Ann Fitzpatrick. Some bankruptcy creditors argued that city-owned art pieces at the Detroit museum should be sold to pay off the city's debt. That attempt failed.
The Ford House is not in any financial trouble and is using the proceeds of the sale to establish an endowment for preservation, officials said. The buyer of the Cézanne painting also had offered to purchase a watercolor by Cezanne in the collection, but the offer was declined.
The Ford House draws about 60,000 visitors a year. Its operating endowment is $86 million.
Cézanne is credited with paving the way for the emergence of 20th-century modernism in art. He was born in 1839 in Aix-en-Provence, France. In 2011, his painting, "The Card Players," sold for more than $250 million. He died in 1906.