Meet the Japanese musician turned billionaire art collector who's going to be the first person to travel to the moon with SpaceX
Elon Musk and his rocket company, SpaceX, revealed on Monday that the first private person to ever fly around the moon will be Japanese entrepreneur and billionaire named Yusaku Maezawa.
Maezawa revealed that he had purchased all the seats on the first crewed flight of SpaceX's new Big Falcon Rocket that is being designed to colonise Mars, and has decided to select six to eight artists to accompany him on the journey, though they have not yet been selected.
He says the artists will be part of a project called #dearmoon, which will involve them creating work inspired by their lunar journey.
It's unclear how much the moon's first space tourist paid for access to the lunar flight, though SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said Maezawa is "paying a lot of money that would help with the ship and its booster."
"He's ultimately paying for the average citizen to travel to other planets."Here's what we know about the man who could be part of the space travel revolution.
Yusaku Maezawa was born in Japan's eastern Chiba prefecture in 1975.
He started an indie rock group called Switch Style, and released an EP in 1995.
He went by the stage name YOU X SUCK and played the drums.
He had a passion for collecting CD's and records, and began a CD and record mail-order business in 1995.
He decided early on that he did not want to become a white-collar worker in Japan "after seeing all the tired faces on my morning commutes." Source: The Daily Beast
In 1998, he launched a company called Start Today Inc.
Start Today is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, and Maezawa owns about 38% of the company.
The company's market cap was $7.2 billion as of July 2017.
After announcing a hiatus from music, his company moved to an online platform and began selling clothing.
His companies, which include online clothing retailers Zozotown and Wear, are among Japan’s largest.
Maezawa introduced a customised clothing brand called ZOZO, which sends customers an at-home measurement system, in July.
The service captures a 3D measurement of the customer's body and delivers bespoke clothing. The service is now available in over 72 countries and territories.
He's an avid art collector.
He owns an impressive collection of works by artists like Pablo Picasso, Yayoi Kusama, Richard Prince, and Jeff Koons.
In May 2017, Maezawa broke records by paying $110.5 million for a 1982 painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat called Untitled — the largest amount ever paid for at auction for a US artist.
He wrote on Instagram of his purchase:"I am happy to announce that I just won this masterpiece. When I first encountered this painting, I was struck with so much excitement and gratitude for my love of art. I want to share that experience with as many people as possible."
Meazawa was inspired to bring artists with him to space after thinking about the art Basquiat might have created had he flown through space.
"One day when I was staring at his painting, I thought, 'What if Basquiat had gone to space and had seen the moon — what wonderful masterpiece would he have created?" Maezawa said.
He is the 18th richest person in Japan.
His net worth is estimated to be worth about $3 billion, and is well connected in the tech world.
He is preparing to embark on one of the most elaborate space missions to date.
Elon Musk has described Maezawa as incredibly brave, and said his desire to participate in and pay for this trip restored Musk's faith in humanity.
"This is going to be dangerous. This is no walk in the park," Musk said of the mission. He added: "It's not 100% certain that we succeed in getting this to flight ... But we're going to do everything humanly possible to bring it to flight as fast as we can and as safely as we can."
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