- Melia Robinson/Business Insider and Christie’s
- Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff paid $7 million to buy a carving of the Hawaiian god Ku at auction.
- The Benioffs, who own land in Hawaii, donated the carving to Bishop Museum in Honolulu, where they felt it belongs.
- The carving arrived in Hawaii last month – just one week before the Kilauea volcano erupted.
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff’s love for the Hawaiian islands knows no bounds.
The San Francisco billionaire and island enthusiast purchased a rare carving of the Hawaiian war god Ku at a Christie’s auction this past November. Benioff got in a bidding war and ultimately paid $7 million for the idol, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Benioff and his wife Lynne gave the statue to the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, in an donation announced by the museum this week.
“We felt strongly that this ki’i belonged in Hawai’i, for the education and benefit of its people,” Benioff said in a statement.
The 20-inch-tall carving, created between 1780 and 1819, has lived in a private collection in Paris since the 1940s. It’s unclear how it got to Paris, though the museum said it resembles another idol which was brought back to Europe by British missionaries who visited Kona in 1822.
The statue was returned back to Hawaii about a month ago, just one week before the Kilauea volcano erupted. The timing was not lost on Benioff, according to the Chronicle.
“It’s a spiritual item,” Benioff told the Chronicle. “It’s not really something that should be held to help the power of one person.”
Benioff, who owns a five-acre estate in Hawaii, has found ways to integrate Hawaiian culture into the day-to-day at Salesforce. “Ohana,” Hawaiian for family, is a core tenant of the company’s culture. The company also regularly invites Hawaiian singers and dancers to perform at conferences and events.