‘I Will Not Run or Hide’: Billionaire Art Collector Yusaku Maezawa, Famous for Buying Basquiats, Responds to Tax-Evasion Accusations

The Japanese former fashion entrepreneur has taken to Twitter to respond to the allegations.

Yusaku Maezawa. Photo: by Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP via Getty Images.

The billionaire art collector Yusaku Maezawa has responded to Japanese media reports accusing him of tax evasion. The owner of an $110 million Basquiat and the star passenger of Elon Musk’s planned SpaceX moon flight took to Twitter to answer to allegations that he failed to declare about ¥500 million ($4.6 million) in taxable income.

“I will not run or hide, and I will spare no effort in paying my taxes if you explain how they should be handled, so please make an efficient use of our taxes,” Maezawa tweeted on Wednesday in response to an article reporting that he was audited by Japan’s National Tax Agency in 2019. He added “for reference” that he has paid ¥50 billion ($464 million) in tax over the past five years, and cheekily pointed out that his name was mispelled in the media reports.

According to a report in the Japan Times, an asset management company belonging to Yusaku Maezawa underreported income over three years by failing to declare Maezawa’s use of a company jet for private purposes. Citing inside sources, the report says that after the error was pointed out by the Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau, the company corrected its tax report but paid no additional taxes as the undeclared income had been offset by losses.

Japanese media also reports from sources that Maezawa allegedly failed to pay ¥99 million ($918,000) over the three years through 2018 in personal taxable income earned from selling paintings. The report says he corrected his declaration and paid the additional tax as well as a penalty fee of about ¥40 million ($371,000).

“I hope to realize a nation where people can live in peace and security, where the secrets of the people are not secretly leaked to certain newspapers,” Maezawa added on Twitter.

The former fashion entrepreneur is an esteemed art collector known for acquiring Jean-Michel Basquiat’s painting 1982 skull painting, as well as for buying a ticket around the moon for Elon Musk’s 2023 SpaceX flight. Maezawa plans to bring artists with him on the flight. He made headlines again earlier this year for his plan to hand out $9 million to his Twitter followers—about ($9,000) each to 1,000 randomly selected individuals—to see if money makes them happy.

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