A Ticket to the Moon Isn't Billionaire Maezawa's Only Big Purchase

(Bloomberg) -- Yusaku Maezawa made headlines three weeks ago when Elon Musk introduced him as the world's first paying passenger to the moon. The goal: inspire humanity by taking about about half a dozen artists on a week-long trip to lunar orbit. Estimated travel date: 2023.

Since then, more people have gotten to know the billionaire Japanese CEO of online fashion retailer Zozo. Even within the archipelago, Maezawa wasn't exactly a household name. Relatively speaking, people such as SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son or Toyota President Akio Toyoda are universally known business titans. Maezawa, 42, mainly made headlines for dating celebrities and his willingness to spend (and flaunt) his wealth, and generally being an iconoclast: he  skipped college, moved to California to play drums in a rock band and later made his fortune by selling clothes on the internet.

Maezawa first started to attract global attention in 2016 when he bought a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting for $57.3 million, and then another the following year for $110.5 million. His social-media feeds are peppered with pictures of his acquisitions, everything from French wines and sushi dinners, to supercars and Picassos.

It should be no surprise then that Maezawa's profligate spending has sparked something of a backlash in a place where conspicuous consumption is frowned upon. Like incoming missiles, tweets in Japanese criticize his energetic spending and his desire to inspire the world by sharing his toys. A video last week of Maezawa playing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star on a 1717 Stradivarius violin only served to infuriate even more people. The audacity.

His response? "There are a lot of 'anti' people out there, using aliases and anonymous accounts, in a safe place far from society, making comments to hurt people. I can't ignore them. I want to tell them to come over, and give them a hug. Include them as family," said the man whose Twitter handle is @yousuck2020.

You can learn a lot about someone from their consumption habits. Maezawa is worth $2.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. There’s (at least) five more years until the rocket launches, so let's take some time getting to know the fellow seeking to spend his way to world peace. The following items have appeared in Maezawa's Twitter and Instagram feeds as things that he's bought, or is thinking about purchasing:

  • Cars: Maezawa appears to prefer getting around Tokyo in a chauffeured Mercedes-Maybach limousine. When he's behind the wheel, it's more likely to be in a Bugatti Chiron, Aston Martin One-77, or Pagani Zonda (or an open-top Mercedes-Benz G-Class, the sixth of the model series that he owns)
  • Art: the Basquiats, of course, as well as Picassos, modern artists and 400 year-old pottery
  • Wine: 1959 Romanée-Conti, 1961 Château Latour, 1970 Château Lafite Rothschild "People say I don't drink wine that costs less than 1 million yen per bottle. I wouldn't drink one unless it's for a special occasion. The last time was for the 20th anniversary of our company."
  • Watches: Richard Mille, Patek Philippe 
  • Food: there's wagyu, big slabs of sushi-grade tuna (Maezawa is also an aficionado of instant noodles, the consumption of which is well documented on his social-media accounts)
  • Jet: a custom-painted Gulfstream G650 (which took him to the World Cup Finals in Russia), and apparently another on order with a  Hermès-designed interior
  • Assistants: Maezawa posted jobs openings this year for personal helpers — specifically, people who will help him manage his car collection, his restaurant and food-related activities, and to write social-media posts on his behalf in Chinese
  • Home: Maezawa is building a massive house, estimated to cost well over $100 million, adorned with wood and massive rocks, meant to hold his art collection; he shares much less information about this purchase
  • Space vehicle: A ride on SpaceX's BFR to the moon, price undisclosed "This mission with @SpaceX could not be purchased only with money. @elonmusk didn’t give the tickets to a billionaire, he gave them to a dreamer."

By no means is Maezawa the first billionaire to enjoy his wealth. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen owns the Octopus, a $200 million superyacht, and collects vintage World War Two fighter planes. Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison bought the Hawaiian island of Lanai for $300 million.

Asked in a news conference on Tuesday, Maezawa denied being a “nouveau riche dude,” saying that he’s not spending money because he’s looking for expensive things. “What I like are really special things that craftsmen worked hard to create. Things when I feel the craftsmanship, history, or passion for the work. And usually works like that are very expensive.” Maezawa often says that the point of his exorbitance is to share it with people. The Stradivarius and his works of art will travel the world to inspire people, especially children, he said.

Maezawa added that he’s not done shopping. As the billionaire once admitted in a tweet: "I don't have any taste, but I have dreams."

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