Meet Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, who is suddenly known for being a contemporary art collector after he bought $98 million worth of art in two days.
The 40-year old’s art bender began at a Christie’s auction on May 10th, where he bought an untitled 1982 painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat for a world record price of $57.3 million. Not satiated, he continued to hunt for the good stuff, snatching up works by Richard Prince ($9.6 million), Jeff Koons ($6.8 million), Alexander Calder ($5.7 million) and Bruce Nauman ($1.7 million).
He then headed to Sotheby’s the next evening and bought works by Adrian Ghenie ($2.6 million) and Christopher Wool ($13.9 million). Bloomberg reports that he alone provided one quarter of Christie’s total evening sale profits this season.
Maezawa was recently named the 17th richest man in Japan by Forbes and is the founder of Japan’s largest online fashion retailer, Zozotown. He is the founder of Tokyo’s Contemporary Art Foundation.
As he said in a recent interview with the Observer, he has always been interested in art, but began seriously collecting about ten years ago. While he is keeping mum about what other works he might be on the prowl for, he eagerly discusses his upcoming art-related endeavors. And lest you think the billionaire is only in the art game for investment purposes, he explains he wants to share his collection with as many people as possible, “I’m in the development stages to open my guest house and private museum in my hometown of Chiba in the near future, and the right pieces came up that grabbed my attention.”
When asked why he was particularly attracted to his recent auction purchases, he details that he was “especially intrigued with the color hues and balance of Runaway Nurse by Richard Prince.” Likewise, he says, “Sumac 17 by Alexander Calder, all in red, has a very casual sexiness that I found intriguing.”
Maezawa considered the “Lobster” by Jeff Koons because, it “is the perfect example of a piece that should be shared with kids because it’s such a fun piece! It looks like it’s made of plastic and very light, yet is stainless steel weighing 200kg!”