A Japanese billionaire recently purchased one of the world’s most expensive violins so he can share it with musicians around the world.
Known as an avid supporter of the arts, Yusuke Maezawa, CEO of popular fashion retailer Zozotown, has been busy shopping around auction houses for paintings and musical instruments.
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I purchased Stradivari 1717 Violin “Hamma”. Like Basquiat painting, I would like to make it travel around the world to send its strong and delicate sound to children in every region and country it visits under cooperation from local musicians. #stradivarius #stradivari Sorry for my terrible first violin playing… — 1717年製のストラディヴァリウス「Hamma（ハンマ）」を買いました（8月12日の投稿のType 3がそれです）。バスキアと同じように、世界中を旅させ、現地音楽家の協力のもと、その地域や国々の子供たちの耳にその力強くも繊細な奇跡の音色を届けたいと思います。 #ストラディバリウス 初めてのヴァイオリン演奏に挑戦してみました笑。
Maezawa made international headlines last month after Elon Musk announced that he will be the very first space tourist to go to the moon via SpaceX’s Big Falcon Rocket sometime in 2023. Maezawa even revealed his plans to invite artists from different fields to join him.
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* A question I hear often: “Shouldn’t you spend your money helping disaster relief or donating to those in need instead of going to the moon?” — My answer: I have always been involved in helping developing nations, and assisting disaster stricken areas around the world. After the tsunami and earthquake in Fukushima, my company and I engaged in relief efforts donating supplies and funds. I’ve been helping children in developing countries with World Vision for almost 20 years. I don’t publicize this, but I feel the need to do so now since people say I’ve done nothing. Whether that makes me look good or not doesn’t matter – I simply want to share facts. I feel guilt that professional NPOs and volunteers do all the hard work on the ground. When you think about the actual work on-site, it makes logical sense for trained professionals to do this. But, I feel inadequate when I send funds and receive a thank you letter. So, what can I do? I arrived at a conclusion after the 9/11 attacks in NYC. I was 25 and decided to set our corporate mission to “Bring Peace to the World” and our philosophy to “Make the World a Better Place, Bring Smiles to the World”. I shared this with our employees and posted it on our website, with the picture of Earth. I wanted everyone to understand what I plan to achieve with my company. It’s been 17 years, and my core beliefs have not wavered. I want to contribute to society by doing things I’m best at, my part as small as that may be, in realizing a more peaceful world. As an entrepreneur, I can do this through my business. I want to make human connection and make lives more fulfilling. Hiring people, paying proper taxes on profits, giving back, helping the next generation of entrepreneurs dream big — these are things that I can do. I am paying my own money to go to the moon. This and my purchase of the Basquiat stem from my personal belief: “Share joy with all through things I like.” I will invite artists to the moon, as I will loan my Basquiat to many museums across the world. It’s like when you open a bottle of wine to share with friends, you can all have a great time. I want to see everyone smile. #dearMoon @dearmoonproject
Now Marsawa is on the news again for acquiring a 1717 Stradivarius Hamma, one of the rarest violins in the world.
In an Instagram post on Tuesday, he showed off the exquisite instrument via a series of images and even a video of him playing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”
According to pricing website Kakaku.com, a violin of this kind is sold for 1,000,000,000 Japanese yen ($8,750,000) but can fetch up to over $15 million in private dealings, Soranews24 reports.
Maezawa wrote on his Instagram post that he doesn’t plan to keep the violin for himself but intends to share it to others around the globe. He noted that the idea is to allow different local musicians to help enrich children’s awareness of classical music.
But while Maezawa’s intentions sounded noble, many Japanese netizens criticized him for the purchase, alleging that it is nothing more than a PR tactic.
“I feel kind of bad for the violin… I wish the owner was someone who could play it, instead,” one commenter wrote.
“Hey, if you can afford to take trips to the Moon and buy a ridiculously-priced violin, why don’t you pay more of the courier fees for shipping from ZOZOTOWN?” another netizen chimed in.
“This is a nice gesture, but I’d rather he think about his employees’ wages,” wrote another.
“I really wish people wouldn’t buy something so precious on a whim. This instrument should be in the hands of someone truly deserving of it, and definitely not just someone who has a lot of money,” one commented.
At least one netizen defended Maezawa’s pricey violin purchase.
“You can tell from all the complaints in this comment section how broke Japan is. I can’t comprehend why you guys care so much about how he spends his money. He used his own cash to buy it, and that’s that,” the commenter wrote.