Yusaku Maezawa (前澤 友作, Maezawa Yūsaku, born 22 November 1975) is a Japanese billionaire entrepreneur and art collector. He founded Start Today in 1998 and launched the online fashion retail website Zozotown in 2004, now Japan's largest. Most recently, Maezawa introduced a custom-fit apparel brand ZOZO and at-home measurement system, the ZOZOSUIT, in 2018.[2] As of December 2021, he is estimated by Forbes to have a net worth of $2.0 billion.[1]

Yusaku Maezawa
前澤 友作
Maezawa in 2021
Born (1975-11-22) 22 November 1975 (age 48)
Kamagaya, Japan
Occupation(s)Entrepreneur, art collector
Years active1998–present
Organization(s)Start Today, Zozotown, ZOZO
Space career
Space Adventures space tourist
Time in space
11 days, 19 hours, 34 minutes
MissionsSoyuz MS-20, dearMoon project (planned)
Mission insignia

Early life edit

Maezawa began attending Waseda Jitsugyo High School in 1991, where he started a hardcore punk band with his classmates called Switch Style [ja], in which he was the drummer.[3][4] The band released their first EP in 1993.[5] After graduating from high school, he decided not to go to college; instead he moved to the US with a girlfriend, where he started collecting CDs and records.[6] When he returned to Japan in 1995, his album collection became the basis for his first company, which sold imported albums and CDs through the mail.[3]

Business edit

Man wearing a Zozosuit

In 1998, Maezawa used the basis of the mail-order album business to launch the company Start Today.[7] The same year, his band signed with the label BMG Japan. By 2000, Start Today had moved to an online platform, had begun selling clothing, and had become a public company. In 2001, Maezawa declared a hiatus on his music career. Start Today opened the retail clothing website Zozotown in 2004, and six years later, Start Today became a publicly traded company, listed on the "Mothers" Index of the Tokyo Stock Exchange. By 2012, Start Today was listed in the First Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange.[8]

In 2018, Maezawa introduced ZOZO, a custom-fit clothing brand and the ZOZOSUIT, an at-home measurement system, in over 72 countries and territories.[9]

Maezawa resigned from ZOZO in September 2019 after selling a stake of 50.1% in the company to SoftBank for US$3.7 billion (400 billion Yen). He also sold 30% of his personal stake in ZoZo to Yahoo Japan.[10]

Contemporary Art Foundation edit

Maezawa is the founder of the Tokyo-based Contemporary Art Foundation, which he started in 2012 with a goal of "supporting young artists as a pillar of the next generation of contemporary art."[11] The Contemporary Art Foundation currently hosts collection shows twice a year. In May 2016, Maezawa attracted significant media attention with a record purchase price at auction of $57.3 million for an Untitled (1982) artwork of a devil by Jean-Michel Basquiat, and broke a record again in May 2017 with a $110.5 million auction for another Untitled (1982) of a skull by the same artist.[12] At the same 2016 auction, Maezawa bought pieces by Bruce Nauman, Alexander Calder, Richard Prince, and Jeff Koons, spending a total of $98 million over two days.[13] Maezawa plans to open a contemporary art museum in Chiba, which will house his collection.[11] In 2022, Maezawa sold an untitled Basquiat Painting for $85 Million.[14]

Spaceflights edit

Announced circumlunar flight edit

On 17 September 2018, it was announced that Maezawa will be the first commercial passenger to do a flyby around the Moon.[15] He will fly on board a SpaceX Starship, which has been in development since 2017. The flight is slated to take place no earlier than 2023 with a duration of nearly six days. He originally planned to take six to eight artists with him as a part of an art project he has created entitled #dearMoon.[16] However, in March 2021, Maezawa changed the requirement to members of the public.[17] Finally, in December 2022, Maezawa announced that he had chosen his crew members, and had selected them as the group of his favorite artists, such as DJ Steve Aoki and T.O.P.[18]

ISS mission edit

On 13 May 2021, Maezawa announced he would be joining Space Adventures on a trip to the International Space Station in December 2021, via a Soyuz spacecraft. He spent 12 days on the orbital station with his assistant, Yozo Hirano, where he completed the top 100 things demanded by public, as well as recorded highlights in preparation for the SpaceX lunar flight.[19][20][21]

The flight lifted off on 8 December 2021, from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan as part of the Russian-operated Soyuz MS-20.[22][23][24] On 18 December, Maezawa announced that he will start a campaign in which every participant will receive a sum of money "from space."[25][26] The campaign started on 19 December.[27] He returned as planned on 20 December.[28]

Most retweeted edit

On 5 January 2019, Maezawa successfully secured the most ever retweets for his Twitter message offering one million yen (approx US$9300) each to 100 randomly selected people who retweeted the message and followed him.[29] More than four million people ended up retweeting Maezawa's tweet and following him.[4]

Later that year, on 31 December, he secured the second spot in the list of most-retweeted tweets by offering one million yen (approx US$9200) each to 1000 randomly selected people who retweeted the Twitter message and followed him.[30] The message surpassed the 3 million retweets mark.[citation needed]

Personal life edit

He is divorced, with one child, and lives in Chiba, Japan.[1]

References edit

  1. ^ a b c "Forbes profile: Yusaku Maezawa". Forbes.com. Archived from the original on 23 September 2018. Retrieved 16 July 2021.
  2. ^ "Japanese art enthusiast Yusaku Maezawa in $98m art spree". BBC News. 12 May 2016. Archived from the original on 31 August 2018. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  3. ^ a b Adelstein, Mari Yamamoto|Jake (13 May 2016). "Meet Yusaku Maezawa, The Billionaire Entrepreneur Rocking The Art World". The Daily Beast. Archived from the original on 16 May 2016. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  4. ^ a b Yusaku Maezawa: Japanese billionaire tweets most retweeted tweet Archived 30 January 2020 at the Wayback Machine, BBC, 7 Jan 2019
  5. ^ "Switch Style". Discogs. Archived from the original on 28 March 2019. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  6. ^ "「競争嫌い」で年商1000億円【1】 -対談:スタートトゥデイ社長 前澤友作×田原総一朗 新しい日本のチカラ:PRESIDENT Online – プレジデント". PRESIDENT Online – PRESIDENT (in Japanese). 10 April 2014. Archived from the original on 10 June 2016. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  7. ^ "Yusaku Maezawa 2016 Contemporary Art Award". artnet News. 24 June 2016. Archived from the original on 18 September 2018. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  8. ^ Adelstein, Mari Yamamoto|Jake (13 May 2016). "Meet Yusaku Maezawa, The Billionaire Entrepreneur Rocking The Art World". The Daily Beast. Archived from the original on 17 May 2016. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  9. ^ Nussey, Sam|Jake (2 July 2018). "Japan's Zozo, using measurement-taking bodysuit, expands bespoke service". Reuters. Archived from the original on 9 May 2019. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  10. ^ "Billionaire to sell Zozo stake to Yahoo Japan". BBC News. 12 September 2019. Archived from the original on 16 January 2020. Retrieved 17 September 2019.
  11. ^ a b "Contemporary Art Foundation (Public Interest Corporation)". Contemporary Art Foundation. Archived from the original on 23 July 2019. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  12. ^ Tindera, Michela (19 May 2017). "Meet The Japanese E-Commerce Billionaire Who Just Spent $110.5 Million On A Basquiat Painting". Forbes. Archived from the original on 10 January 2020. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  13. ^ Kazakina, Katya (12 May 2016). "Collector Maezawa drops $98 million on art in two days". The Japan Times Online. ISSN 0447-5763. Archived from the original on 7 January 2019. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  14. ^ Porterfield, Carlie (18 May 2022). "Billionaire Yusaku Maezawa Sells Basquiat Painting For $85 Million As Market For Artist's Work Heats Up". Forbes. Retrieved 24 July 2023.
  15. ^ "First Private Passenger on Lunar Starship Mission". Archived from the original on 11 February 2020. Retrieved 18 September 2018 – via www.youtube.com.
  16. ^ Dear Moon Archived 12 January 2020 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed: 17 September 2018.
  17. ^ Maezawa wants you: Japan billionaire seeks 'crew' for moon trip Archived 4 March 2021 at the Wayback Machine, Sam Nussey, BBC, 2021-03-03
  18. ^ "SpaceX moon flight to include DJ, YouTuber and K-pop rapper". BBC News. 9 December 2022. Retrieved 9 December 2022.
  19. ^ Stimac, Valerie. "Japanese Billionaire Yusaku Maezawa Is Heading To The International Space Station In December". Forbes. Archived from the original on 14 May 2021. Retrieved 14 May 2021.
  20. ^ "Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa to travel to ISS in December". The Japan Times. 13 May 2021. Archived from the original on 23 May 2021. Retrieved 14 May 2021.
  21. ^ "Wanted! 100 Things You Want MZ To Do in Space!". Wanted! 100 Things You Want MZ To Do in Space!. Archived from the original on 26 May 2021. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  22. ^ "Space exploration in 2021".
  23. ^ "Russian rocket blasts off carrying Japanese billionaire to ISS". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 8 December 2021.
  24. ^ "Space Tourist Billionaire Maezawa Blasts Off to Space - December 8, 2021". Daily News Brief. 8 December 2021. Retrieved 8 December 2021.
  25. ^ ""前澤友作 全員お金贈りfrom宇宙"が『kifutown』を通じて本日12月19日(日)より開始" (in Japanese). 20 December 2021. Archived from the original on 20 December 2021. Retrieved 20 December 2021.
  26. ^ "Another billionaire is blasting into space — and he said he'll give away cash to people on earth while he's in orbit". Business Insider. 8 December 2021. Retrieved 20 December 2021.
  27. ^ "前澤友作さん、「宇宙から全員お金贈り」スタートしサーバーがパンク「宇宙から地上に駆けつけたいくらい」". Yomiuri Shimbun (in Japanese). 19 December 2021. Archived from the original on 20 December 2021. Retrieved 20 December 2021.
  28. ^ LIVE: Japanese space tourists speak after returning to Earth, retrieved 22 December 2021
  29. ^ @yousuck2020 (5 January 2019). "ZOZOTOWN新春セールが史上最速で取扱高100億円を先ほど突破!!日頃の感謝を込め、僕個人から100名様に100万円【総額1億円のお年玉】を現金でプレゼントします。応募方法は、僕をフォローいただいた上、このツイートをRTするだけ。受付は1/7まで。当選者には僕から直接DMします! #月に行くならお年玉" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  30. ^ @yousuck2020 (31 December 2019). "🎍謹賀新年🎍【総額10億円】#前澤お年玉 100万円を1000人にプレゼントします!100万円で皆さまの人生がよりハッピーになりますように。応募方法は僕のフォローとこのツイートのリツイート。締切は1月7日23:59まで。企画趣旨や当選条件などはYouTubeで説明してます。https://youtu.be/JfulqIBiVfQ" (Tweet) – via Twitter.