Nairobi, June 13, “I am a lucky man” those were the remarks of one Yusaku Maezawa on purchasing a painting for Ksh 11.4 billion (equivalent to $110.5 million). The Japanese entrepreneur and avid art collector couldn’t hide his excitement on the latest addition to his vast art collection.
The highly prized painting by the American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat was not the first to land on Yusaku Maezawa’s collection. Earlier on, the billionaire had acquired similar painting by the artist at $57 million. Both paintings are untitled though they show a great deal of similarity in style and the hues.
Yusaku is a Japanese tycoon and made his fortune from operating E-commerce. According to Forbes, he is the founder of Zozotown, the largest online fashion mall in Japan. But Yusaku made his first entry into E-commerce industry in 1998 through his company Start Today. Given that art has no intrinsic or objective value, the investment in acquisition of artworks sound a lunatic idea.
Away from business, Yusaku is an ardent collector of modern art. His passion for art may culminate to the building of a museum in Chiba, east of Tokyo in the future. This is where he hopes to put his treasured art collection on display and “share that experience with as many people as possible.” Yusaku Maezawa has had a passion in art that spans back to his days as a musician in the band he founded at high school.
We may never really understand the value that lures Yusaku to spend such a fortune on a painted canvas. However, the art auctions have their queer driving forces and scarcity perhaps tops the list. Besides, technique, style, market stipulation and human declaration determine the commercial value.
Most notably, the works by the world’s most celebrated artists on peaked posthumous. Somehow, the market realizes that they will never paint again and thus they have to scramble for the little or much there is. Jean-Michel Basquiat, for instance, died in August, 1988. Dubious as art collection may sound, the purchase of these “imitations of reality” remains a real investment. If you doubt this ask Yusaku he knows it best. After all he is currently worth $3.7 billion – roger that.