The billionaire Japanese fashion mogul – he’s the Founder and President of Start Today Co., Ltd., which runs Japanʼs biggest online fashion mall, “ZOZOTOWN” – former rock musician, act collector, and generous patron of the arts also set the previous auction record for Jean-Michel Basquiat when he bought a self-portrait by the artist for US$57.3 million at Christie’s New York in May last year.
Commenting on the painting, he said “I believe the most raw elemental gestures and emotions of the artist are imbued throughout this work. When I encountered the work at the Christieʼs New York preview, I had an immediate visceral connection it. Generationally, I relate to Basquiatʼs culture and the essence of his life story.”
“Rather than monetary or investment value, I felt I had a personal responsibility to take care of this masterpiece and preserve it for the next generation,” he added. “This Basquiat was first exhibited in Tokyo in 1985. For Japan, this was an art historical moment. To have encountered such a superb painting gives me great joy from the bottom of my heart and I feel privileged and honored to own it. I am very grateful and proud of this moment.”
But there’s more to Mr Maezawa’s art-related activities than headline-making auction sales – he is also the founder of the Tokyo-based Contemporary Art Foundation, which states its aim as “to contribute to the promotion of contemporary art by helping young artists and young musicians improve their skills.”
Following the $110.5 million sale, Mr Maezawa took the almost unprecedented step of taking to Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/yusaku2020) to announce his purchase. It’s rare for buyers at the same level as Mr Maezawa to identify themselves as the winning bidder of an expensive work of art, let alone take to social media to celebrate their success.