SpaceX CEO Elon Musk revealed that Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese billionaire and founder of Zozotown, Japan’s largest online clothing retailer, will be the first private customer to ride around the Moon on the company’s future massive rocket, the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR). Maezawa plans to fly on the trip as early as 2023, and he wants to take artists with him to turn the entire ride into an art project called #dearMoon. A website for the mission went live after the announcement.
“Finally, I can tell you that I choose to go to the Moon! I choose to go to the moon with artists!” Maezawa said to announce his trip at a SpaceX event.
Maezawa, who is 42, reportedly has a current net worth of $2.9 billion, according to Forbes. He is also an avid art collector, and he spent $110.5 million on a 1982 painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat called Untitled last year. As an artist, he wants to invite other artists to come along with him on his ride. Maezawa says he has “bought all the seats” on the BFR and will be looking for others to join him on a week-long mission around the Moon.
“I would like to invite six to eight artists from around the world to join me on this mission to the Moon,” he said. “These artists will be asked to create something after they return to Earth, and these masterpieces will inspire the dreamer within all of us.” Maezawa says he hasn’t decided which artists he’d like to invite yet, but he would like them to represent many different fields, such as painters, musicians, film directors, and more.
Maezawa says he was inspired by imagining what his favorite artists would have created if they had traveled to space. “What if Picasso had gone to the Moon? Or Andy Warhol or Michael Jackson or John Lennon?” he asked at the event. “What about Coco Chanel? These are all artists that I adore.”
Musk said that Maezawa actually came to SpaceX with the idea to do this flight. The billionaire declined to say how much he paid for the flight, but the trip will be free for the artists who go with him. Musk also noted that the down payment Maezawa made was significant enough that it will “have a material effect on paying for cost and development of BFR.”
“It makes a difference,” Musk said. “He puts his money where his mouth is. He’s legit.” Musk also estimated that the development cost for BFR will be roughly $5 billion.
SpaceX hasn’t decided on any specific type of training that Maezawa will do for the mission yet. “Nothing is written in stone,” Maezawa said through a translator. “We are going to start discussion and decide here on forward.”