Following “The 500 Arhats,” his first one-man presentation in Japan in 14 years at the Mori Art Museum, which opened last October, Takashi Murakami unveiled a landmark showing of over 1,000 artworks from his collection at the Yokohama Museum of Art in late January.

The title, however, is slightly misleading. “Although the exhibition is titled ‘Takashi Murakami’s Superflat Collection,’ these works are, strictly speaking, not really ‘in’ my collection per se,” Murakami tells me, during a recent visit to his studio. “For tax reasons, all the artworks in my so-called ‘collection’ have actually been classed as dead stock or bad inventory belonging to my gallery, Kaikai Kiki — entirely legally, of course,” he adds.

“You see, the tax system is Japan is extremely unfavorable towards the collecting of art. Whenever I talk with my tax accountants, they always tell me to sell off my art pieces at a loss — at a price much, much lower than what I paid for them,” he says, with a touch of bemusement. “If I got rid of some artworks in this way, then I wouldn’t have to pay the tax on them.”

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