Unlike many right brain-leaning leaders, Jack Ma -- China’s second-richest man who serves as executive chairman of tech giant Alibaba -- isn’t afraid to tap into his artistic side.
And when he’s not brandishing a microphone and spangled silver jacket to belt out tunes in front of Alibaba employees, the unconventional founder also moonlights as a painter -- and a rather successful one at that.
Yesterday, one of Ma’s paintings fetched $5.4 million at a Sotheby’s auction -- 21 times above above its expected price, according to The Wall Street Journal. The buyer was Chinese entrepreneur and philanthropist Qian Fenglei.
The work, entitled ‘Paradise,’ is a painting of the earth as it appears from space executed on a round canvas, which Ma created in collaboration with the popular Chinese artist Zeng Fanzhi. They covered the canvas in paint, dotted it with additional coatings, and then used a scraper to give the work depth. All proceeds will go to Paradise International Foundation -- an environmental non-profit founded by Ma, Fanzhi and other Chinese philanthropists.
“This is my first time to paint, and I feel very good,” Ma told Sotheby’s of the work, which was created in 2014 -- though in 2013, Ma sold an ink drawing on Alibaba’s ecommerce platform for roughly $380,000, whose proceeds were also donated to charity.
Environmental issues are clearly close to his heart: Earlier this year, Ma purchased a $23 million property in New York’s Adirondacks Mountains for conservational purposes that he also plans to use as a personal retreat.