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Massive Bluefin Tuna Rakes in $323,000 at Tsukiji Fish Market Auction

It weighs 890 pounds and can be made into 13,000 pieces of sushi

Restaurateur Kiyoshi Kimura poses with a bluefin tuna he bought at Tsukiji fish market’s New Year auction.

This morning at the famed Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, the first auction of 2018 saw a massive bluefina tuna fetch a hefty $323,000. The fish weighed 890 pounds, Reuters reports, bringing its price per pound to nearly $800.

A company that operates several high-end sushi restaurants in Tokyo bought the giant fish and plans to turn it into 13,000 pieces of sushi, per the Financial Times. It’s the first time in seven years that the priciest fish at the New Year’s auction was sold to someone other than restaurateur Kiyoshi Kimura.

Paying more than $300,000 for one fish is certainly nothing to sneeze at, but it’s nowhere close to the highest price seen at Tsukiji’s New Year’s auctions: In 2013, Kimura bought a bluefin tuna for a record high price of $1.76 million — or more than $3,000 a pound.

Prospective buyers inspect tuna for sale at Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market.
Buyers break down tuna purchased at Tsukiji’s New Year auction.
Giant tuna on the auction block at Tsukiji fish market.
Wholesalers inspect tuna for sale at Tsukiji’s first auction of 2018.
Wholesalers perform a hand-clapping ritual at Tsukiji’s New Year auction.

As indicated by the huge price discrepancy from year to year, the price per pound isn’t necessarily reflective of the quality of the tuna: Getting in a tuna bidding war is a New Year’s tradition at Tsukiji that largely serves as a publicity stunt for the victorious buyer’s business.

This morning’s sale was the final New Year’s auction that will be held at Tsukiji’s current location in central Tokyo. The 80-year-old market, a huge tourist attraction that draws tens of thousands of visitors each year, is slated to relocate later this year to make way for construction related to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. The planned move less than two miles away to Toyosu has run into both delays and major controversy after it was discovered that the soil there was contaminated.

Tuna Goes for $323K at Tokyo Fish Market’s Final New Year Auction [Reuters]
Tuna Sells for $323K at Tsukiji’s Final New Year Auction [Financial Times]