September 18, 2018 - 10:32 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, confirmed as SpaceX's first Moon tourist, is a former wannabe rock star now worth $3 billion with a penchant for pricey modern art as well as space travel.
The 42-year-old tycoon, chief executive of Japan's largest online fashion mall, is the country's 18th richest person, according to business magazine Forbes.
His Instagram feed is peppered with shots of his luxury living -- including private jets, yachts and designer watches, but also his beloved art.
Maezawa hit the headlines last year when he bought a Jean-Michel Basquiat masterpiece worth $110.5 million.
But he also often features in the tabloid glossies for his celebrity love life.
He used to date the ex-wife of professional baseball player Yu Darvish, pitcher at US major league team Chicago Cubs and is now reportedly with Japanese actress Ayame Goriki.
The entrepreneur has a passion for modern art and splashed a record sum for Basquiat's 1982 "Untitled", a skull-like head in oil-stick, acrylic and spray paint on a giant canvas.
Maezawa founded the Contemporary Art Foundation in Tokyo and was on the 2017 list of "Top 200 Collectors" of the ARTnews magazine based in New York.
He insists he is just an "ordinary collector" -- despite his extraordinary bank balance. His purchases are born out of love and driven by gut instinct, rather than the instructions of any art advisor.
"I buy simply because they are beautiful. That's all. I enjoy classics together with the history and stories behind them, but possessing classics is not the purpose of my purchase," he told AFP in an interview last year.
And rather than squirrel the work away, he loaned it out to museums including the Brooklyn Museum, in the artist's hometown.
"I hope it brings as much joy to others as it does to me, and that this masterpiece by the 21-year-old Basquiat inspires our future generations," he said.
Art was high on his mind when he announced he would blast into space on a SpaceX rocket in 2023, saying he would invite six to eight artists from around the world with him.
"They will be asked to create something after they return to Earth. These masterpieces will inspire the dreamer within all of us," he told reporters.
He has already shown his appreciation for Musk's space programme, tweeting his congratulations for the successful launch of Falcon Heavy in February.
"I am moved that I shared the historic moment on the scene. I am so thrilled and encouraged I can't put it into words," his tweet said.