In an art sale at Sotheby in Hong Kong on Sunday a painting by Alibaba Group founder and all-around Renaissance Man Jack Ma sold for the surprising sum of HK$42.2 million (US$5.4 million).
Ma was helped along by veteran Chinese artist Zeng Fanzhi. Together the two painted a blue, green and white piece of oil-on-canvas representing Earth entitled “Paradise.” The artists coated and dotted the canvas with paint, before using palette knives to scrape the surface.
“This is the first time I’ve painted, and to have been able to do it with Fanzhi — I am deeply honored,” Ma wrote in the auction catalog. “Together, we created an earth: to protect the earth, to protect the oceans, to protect the air, to protect water.”
The buyer was Chinese business tycoon and philanthropist Fenglei Qian. The original high estimate for the work was HK$2.5 million, but 30 bids later it was sold for nearly seventeen times that amount. The proceeds from the sale will be donated to the Paradise International Foundation, a charity dedicated to environmental conservation.
This isn’t Ma’s first foray into philanthropy, he was ranked second in the 2015 Global Chinese Philanthropy list after only Li Ka-shing.
After this first success, we’ll see if Ma still holds on to his day job.