HE’S GOT THE WHOLE WORLD…: Apparently, Alibaba founder Jack Ma’s overachieving ways extend to his interest in art. The billionaire made the cut for this year’s Hurun Art List, a ranking of the top 100 living Chinese artists based on 2015 auction sales of their works.
Last fall, “Paradise,” a spacelike view of the Earth with what seems to be scaled-down ice masses that Ma painted with Zeng Fanzhi, sold at Sotheby’s for $5.3 million. The art is meant to highlight the shrinking icecaps and the proceeds were donated to the Paradise International Foundation, which Ma and Fanzhi cofounded. Pony Ma, the founder of Tencent, also helped start the nonprofit, which aims to improve environmentalism in China and other parts of the world.
To that end, Ma, Chinese Council president of The Nature Conservancy, shelled out more than $23 million for 28,100 acres in New York’s Adirondacks, a good deal of which will be earmarked for a nature conservancy. The conservancy is no doubt mentioned in Duncan Clark’s book, “Jack Ma: The House that Alibaba Built,” due out from Harper Collins’ Ecco Press on April 12. The book maps out how Ma built one of the world’s most profitable companies from the ground up in less than 10 years and helped redefine retail in the process.
With $17 million in sales, Fanzhi finished second on Huron’s 2016 Art List. Three of the 52-year-old artist’s works made the Top 10 Most Expensive Individual Works of Art, thanks largely to his collaboration with Ma. For the second year in a row, Cui Ruzhuo topped the overall art list with $120.3 million. He Jiaying took the third-place slot with $15 million in 2015 sales.
Total sales of the Top 100 slid 45 percent to $565 million, marking the fourth declining year. The report’s chairman and chief researcher Rupert Hoogewerf said, “A heady mix of the continued anticorruption campaign, which has put a stop to gifting art to government officers, and a slowdown in the economy have combined to see both sales and the number of top works at auction pretty much halve.”