Japanese billionaire space tourist Yusaku Maezawa is putting one of his artworks up for sale, an auction house has said, hoping for around $13 million profit on the piece.
The 5-metre-wide “Untitled” by Jean-Michel Basquiat will be sold on May 18 for an estimated price of around $70 million, auction house Phillips said in a statement on Monday in New York.
That would make Maezawa a tidy profit on the artwork, which he purchased in 2016 for $57.3 million.
The mega-rich founder of Japan’s largest online fashion mall said in the statement that the past six years of owning the painting were “a great pleasure”. But art “should be shared so that it can be a part of everyone’s lives,” he added.
Ahead of its sale, the massive artwork, dating back to 1982, will go on international tour, being displayed in London, Los Angeles and Taipei, the statement said.
Maezawa, who in 2017 set a new auction record for Basquiat works when he paid $110.5 million for another painting by the 20th century giant, also said he plans to create a new museum to exhibit his collection.
Basquiat died at the age of 27 of a heroin overdose.
The Japanese billionaire founded the Contemporary Art Foundation in Tokyo and was on the 2017 list of “Top 200 Collectors” by the ARTnews magazine based in New York.
Maezawa has been in the headlines more recently for becoming the first tourist to travel to the International Space Station with Russia’s space agency.
His odyssey is believed to have cost around 10 billion yen ($87 million), and he plans to follow it up with a trip around the Moon organised by Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
• AFP, with additional editing by George Russell