In American culture, the bridge of relations between the country’s most powerful business mogul and its most buzzed-about celebrities is seldom begrudged. Whether it be Kanye West budding up with the likes of Elon Musk or reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner talking policy with some of the country’s most influential politicians, the lines between the two worlds often cross without even the blink of an eyelash.
Though China, a nation with growing concerns regarding the toxicity of celebrity culture, things are just a bit different. While American tycoon may have no qualms with rubbing elbows with the nation’s elite figures of entertainment, Chinese billionaire Jack Ma could be seeing some ramifications towards his $39 billion fortune from doing the same.
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In regards to a rich person’s mentality, Ma once said, “You’re friends will continue to support you. Thus the wealth will continue to grow and grow.”
It’s no secret that the Alibaba Group Holding founder has a fabulous circle of rather wealthy friends. However, it’s the acquaintance with celebrity status that may spell a number of grievances for his growing wealth.
Most notably, Ma’s close relationship with actress Zhao Wei has been the subject of much controversy. Wei, of My Fairy Princess fame, and her husband Huang Youlong were early investors in Alibaba Pictures, a video production firm founded by Ma. In 2014, the couple took a $400 million stake in the company. However, the actress found herself in hot water when she wound up a five-year band from the stock industry due to providing misleading information. Things didn’t get better for Wei, as just a few weeks ago, almost all likeness of her image was completely erased from Chinese media – including almost all films she’s featured in unofficial, fan-made social media accounts.
Interestingly enough, Wei’s mother had a sizable investment in Ant Group and affiliate company to Alibaba Group Holding. She made a move as a shareholder through two separate firms which are operated by Yunfeng Capital. Yunfeng Capital just so happens to be founded by none other than Jack Ma himself.
Though Wei and her family aren’t the only suspicious names seen as early birds in taking early birds to Ant Group firms. A close friend to Ma and revered businessman, Qian Fenglei was also a shareholder in Yunfeng Capitol and put stocks into Ma’s firm.
Amid these controversies, China’s richest man resorted to what most prominent figures resort to when they’ve been stuck in a rather prickly situation: hibernation. For months now, much like his famous friends, Ma has vanished from all forms of media, leaving the prospects of his multibillion-dollar company up to speculation.
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Sources: Fortune, Bloomberg, Forbes
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