Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese billionaire and online fashion tycoon, will be the first private passenger to the Moon. He will fly on a SpaceX Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) to the Moon, and the trip is likely to materialise by 2023.

The last time an astronaut travelled to the Moon was in 1972 as part of the Apollo 17 mission.

“The first private passenger to fly around the Moon aboard BFR (Big Falcon Rocket) is fashion innovator and globally recognized art curator Yusaku Maezawa,” US private space firm SpaceX tweeted on Monday.

The 42-year-old founder and CEO of Japan’s largest online fashion retailer Zozo reportedly paid an unspecified amount of money to achieve the feat.

Maezawa is also a contemporary art collector and curator who has a large collection at his Contemporary Art Foundation in Tokyo. The collection features works of renowned painters such as Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Alexander Calder and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

The businessman will be taking a group of artists along on his trip to the Moon.

“I choose to go to the Moon, with Artists,” Maezawa posted on twitter.

In an Instagram post, he said: “If Pablo Picasso had been able to see the moon up-close, what kind of paintings would he have drawn?
If John Lennon could have seen the curvature of the Earth, what kind of songs would he have written?
If they had gone to space, how would the world have looked today?”

In the long Instagram post, Yusaku Maezawa added: “People are creative and have a great imagination.
We all have the ability to dream dreams that have never been dreamt, to sing songs that have never been sung, to paint that which has never been seen before.
I hope that this project will inspire the dreamer within all of us.
Together with Earth’s top artists, I will be heading to the moon… just a little earlier than everyone else.
I am truly blessed by this opportunity to become Host Curator of “#dearMoon”.”

He also thanked Elon Musk and SpaceX for the opportunity, saying: “I would like to thank Elon Musk and SpaceX for creating the opportunity to go around the moon in their BFR. I would also like to thank all those who have continuously supported me.
I vouch to make this project a success. Stay tuned!”

According to Forbes, Maezawa is the 18th richest man in Japan, and has a fortune of $2.9 billion.

“Ever since I was a kid, I have loved the Moon,” Maezawa said at SpaceX headquarters and rocket factory in Hawthorne, California, late Monday.

“This is my lifelong dream.”

See the video here.

The BFR that will take Yusaku Maezawa and the artists to the Moon is being developed.

NASA has also hired SpaceX and Boeing to develop commercial space trips from the US.