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Hamptons Life

Aug 21, 2017 9:53 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Former Henry Ford II Estate Fordune Goes On The Market Asking $175M

Fordune COURTESY BESPOKE
Aug 21, 2017 9:53 AM

Like most auto manufacturers, the Ford Motor Company has not been doing as well as the heady, post-recession period of a few years ago. Could that explain why Fordune in Southampton, built by Henry Ford II (more about him in a moment) has just gone on the market? And this isn’t just any estate—at $175 million, it has the highest ask in the Hamptons. The highest price paid in the Hamptons was $147 million for an estate in East Hampton three years ago.

What will you get for 17.5 percent of a billion? First, 42 acres on the Atlantic Ocean. The 20,000-square-foot Europan-inspired manor, constructed in 1960, features a 48-foot-long living room with French parquet floors and Italian marble fireplaces, flanked by three wings that offer servant rooms, a huge kitchen, and a large library. The landscaped grounds include ponds, a carriage house, a pool, a six-car garage, and a tennis court and a basketball court among the mature trees.

We cannot write a lie. (We leave that to the folks in Washington.) The present owner who is selling Fordune is Brenda Earl, a Wall Street whiz who bought the estate in 2002. The ask then was a relatively puny $35 million. Henry Ford II hasn’t actually lived in the place for at least 53 years. But he built it Ford tough, so his tale should be told.

“Hank the Deuce,” as he was often called (mostly behind his back), Henry Ford II was born in 1917 in Detroit to Eleanor and Edsel Ford, the latter a son of the Henry Ford who pioneered the American car industry. When Edsel died of cancer in 1943 it was expected his eldest son would immediately become the head of Ford Motors, but Henry II was serving in the Navy, so his ailing and elderly grandfather came out of retirement. Immediately after World War II ended, Henry II became president of the company and Henry I was kicked to the curb. The new top gun re-energized Ford Motors and it enjoyed a new reign of success. The company went public in 1956, and four years later Henry II went upstairs to become its CEO. He remained in mostly figurehead, though influential, roles after that, until his death at age 70 in 1987.

Fordune was literally his beachhead in the Hamptons. He and his wife, Anne McDonnell, whom he had married in 1940, had three children: Charlotte Ford, Anne Ford and Edsel Ford II. In 1960, they also had a beautiful oceanfront estate in Southampton. But just four years after the housewarming party, Henry II was shown the impressive front door because his wife got the estate in the divorce settlement. She held onto it for 11 years, then in 1975 she sold it to an Italian financier, Carlo Traglio. The tab was $1.8 million—which wouldn’t get you anywhere near Fordune today.

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I remember when I was a youngster and delivered to the Ford estate. It ran from wickapogue to flying point.
Now that was a estate...
By knitter (872), Southampton on Aug 24, 17 4:13 PM
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