SINGAPORE (Sept 24): In a country known for conformity, Yusaku Maezawa has always sought to stand out. He skipped college in Japan, moved to California in the US to play in a rock band and started his own e-commerce company. After making it big, the 42-year-old started dropping hundreds of millions of dollars on artwork. Now the billionaire founder of Start Today Co is set to become the first paying passenger to the moon on a SpaceX rocket scheduled to blast off in 2023. It is the latest headline-grabbing project by Maezawa, whose Twitter handle is @yousuck2020.

While Maezawa is relatively unknown outside the archipelago and the art world, he is guaranteed to become more famous with his plan to fly to Earth’s biggest satellite with a cabal of artists. A self-professed art lover, the Japanese entrepreneur intends to take a combination of painters, musicians, dancers, photographers, film directors, fashion designers and architects on a week-long lunar loop, where he will get to watch as they get inspired and create art along the way.

“I thought long and hard about how valuable it would be to be the first passenger to the moon,” Maezawa said at an announcement at Space Exploration Technologies Corp’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California, sitting next to the rocket company’s CEO, Elon Musk. “I choose to go to the moon with artists.”

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