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Japanese Restaurateur Pays Princely Sum of $118K for a Single Bluefin Tuna

That's nothing compared to 2013's record price of $1.76 million, however.

Ken Ishii/Getty Images

Between Champagne, cover charges, and Uber surge pricing, you probably spent a pretty penny if you went out on New Year's Eve. But probably not $118,000, which is the princely sum a Tokyo restaurateur paid for a bluefin tuna to ring in 2016 at the city's legendary Tsukiji Fish Market.

For the fifth year in a row, sushi restaurant mogul Kiyoshi Kimura was the highest bidder at the fish market's first auction of the year that went down early Tuesday morning; according to the Associated Press the fish weighed 200 kilograms, or about 440 pounds, putting the price per pound at just over $265. Prized (and overfished) as bluefin is, that's not necessarily the fair market value of the fish: As the Wall Street Journal's Japan Realtime blog notes, "Foods made available for the first time during the year, including tuna, fruits and vegetables, is considered good luck in Japan. They often fetch considerably more at auction than their market value."

And this year's price is nothing compared to what Kimura paid in 2013, when he dropped a record $1.76 million for a 488-pound bluefin tuna. (Last year he paid a relatively paltry $37,500 for a 400-pounder.) This year's purchase is bound to be especially memorable, however, as it's the final New Year auction in the market's current location. This November, the popular tourist destination will relocate to a gigantic complex further south in the Toyosu district; this will allow for redevelopment of the prime downtown real estate the market currently resides on as the city looks ahead to hosting the 2020 Summer Olympics.

The move, although decades in the making, isn't without controversy: Fishermen and dealers are stressing over having to relocate their businesses just before the busiest season of the year, and toxins like lead and arsenic were discovered in the soil at the new site, though it has since undergone extensive cleanup.

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