Jack Ma Sells His Debut Painting for $5.4 million

Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma moonlights as a painter, and his first piece just sold at auction for millions.

Ma painted "Paradise," a round, oil on canvas depicting Earth, with his friend and well-known Chinese artist Zeng Fanzhi. 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 piece sold at Sotheby's on Sunday for about 42.2 million Hong Kong dollars ($5.4 million) -- 17 times more than estimated by the auction house -- to Chinese businessman Qian Fenglei. Proceeds from the sale are going to the Paradise International Foundation, a non-profit, environmental conservation group backed by Ma, Zeng and other Chinese philanthropists and entrepreneurs.