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The collector who says he’s sending artists to the moon

21 September 2018

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories

Last year, Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa splashed out $110.5m for a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat. He has now set his sights on a prize altogether more stratospheric. Earlier this week, Maezawa was named as the first punter to stump up for a trip on one of Elon Musk’s commercial space flights, which are expected to be operational from 2023.

At the time of writing, the exact price Maezawa paid for his round trip to the moon is not known – but it’s unlikely to have been cheap. Quite apart from reserving his own seat, the collector has also reserved places for at least half a dozen artists, who he hopes will be inspired to create new bodies of work on returning to Earth.

‘If Pablo Picasso had been able to see the moon up-close, what kind of paintings would he have drawn?’ Maezawa asks on a website he has created for the project. Such speculation begs the question: who will he choose to keep him company? Tom Sachs, who has created a large body of work based on the exploration of Mars, is a likely contender. Katie Paterson, who was the first artist to send an art work to the International Space Station, is another.

Will Trevor Paglen be on the list? The artist recently irked some astronomers when he announced plans to launch his own satellite. Rakewell hopes his invitation doesn’t get lost in the post…

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