Art market

Yusaku Maezawa awarded the Order of Arts and Letters by French government

Japanese collector was catapulted into the limelight when he spent $110m on a Basquiat, which is currently on 'world tour'

The former Japanese rockstar turned e-commerce entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa has been awarded one of France’s highest cultural honours–the Officier de L'Ordre Arts et Lettres (Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters).

Yesterday the social media savvy collector posted photographs on Instagram from the award ceremony at the Brooklyn Museum in New York where his prized 1982 skull painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat has been on show for the past six weeks.

The painting, which Maezawa bought for a record $110m (with fees) at Sotheby’s in New York last May, is currently on “world tour”, with the Seattle Art Museum the next stop (21 March-13 August). Further venues have not been announced–the collector appears to prefer revealing details on Instagram–but speculation is now mounting as to whether French institutions will receive the work next.

Several other high-profile Asian collectors have been awarded honours by the French government recently. They include the Chinese patron Adrian Cheng, whose K11 Art Foundation has partnered with several French institutions including the Centre Pompidou, the Palais de Tokyo and the Claude Monet Foundation, and the Indonesian-Chinese collector Budi Tek, who was awarded the Chevalier de l’Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur (Chevalier of the French Legion of Honour) last August.

The Order of Arts and Letters is awarded “to recognise eminent artists and writers, as well as people who have contributed significantly to furthering the arts in France and throughout the world”.