The Paul and Helen Zuckerman Collection
"Paul Zuckerman’s death is a loss that is deeply felt by the citizens of the State of Israel and by me personally. From the establishment of the state and on through the years of historic challenge, Mr. Zuckerman was at the forefront of efforts on Israel’s behalf. His leadership of the united Jewish appeal and his devotion to so many. Other important causes characterized a lifetime of commitment to the Jewish people" - Shimon Peres, Prime Minister of Israel, quoted in Armand Gebert, The Detroit News, January 9, 1986.

Paul Zuckerman was called a "sabra" by men of the founding generation of the State of Israel. Like the Israeli desert prickly pear whose hard and thorny exterior belies its soft and sweet interior, Paul Zuckerman could have been described, too, as a "diamond in the rough." With his wife, Helen, the Zuckermans did all they could to help repair and transform the world, thereby fulfilling the Torah commandments to "love your neighbor" and "not to stand idly by while another is in need." Through their many act of philanthropy, they encouraged their recipients to be self-reliant. The Zuckermans did not merely give those in need a fish to eat, but they enabled them to create a "nation of fisherman." And more, they encouraged others to give as well following the Talmudic teaching: "Greater than one who does a mitzvah, is one who causes others to do a mitzvah."

Paul Zuckerman, the born in Istanbul before immigrating to the United States, once sold newspapers on the street before attending a two year stint at the University of Detroit. His next job was to drive a produce truck to Eastern Market. It was then that he met future wife, Helen Fleisher. Concerning his predicament Paul states "I was driving a truck at the time and her father (the proprietor of Oppenheim’s Dry Goods on Detroit’s east side) was opposed to me because I wasn’t ‘established’. I just had to accept that challenge." It was then, in 1937, that he founded the Velvet Peanut Butter Company after borrowing $1,500 to invest in machinery located in a two car garage on 12th street at the river. By 1973, Velvet Peanut butter was selling fifteen million pounds a year and became the only regional product to outsell national varieties. Velvet Peanut Butter expanded to encompass potato chips, pre-cooked bacon (an innovative product at the time) and beer and wine distribution. Helen was very beautiful, quiet and soft-spoken but with an intelligence and dignity that never failed her. She had an innate exquisite taste and an eye for the fine and beautiful that led her to objects of the highest quality. It was the combination of adventure and daring on Paul’s part and the discerning editing on Helen’s part that drove these two young and inexperienced collectors. Though the Zuckerman Collection spans across a thousand years, there remains a common thread of idealized form and painterly abstraction throughout. The modernists Leger and Arp capture an essential language of the figurative subject distilled down to essentials. The antiquities and glass objects reinforce this modernist thinking and when seen together serve to resonate through the ages. The abstract expressionism of Hoffman and Gottlieb discard the figure entirely, freeing painting to become pure gesture, color and geometric form. Frankenthaler further reduces the gesture and composition to focus on flat passages of pure layered color.

Special Features

  1. The Schulhof Collection
  2. Property of a Distinguished New York Collection
  3. The Paul and Helen Zuckerman Collection