The New York Times is reporting that a Tokyo sushi baron, Kiyoshi Kimura, dropped the equivalent of $1.76 million on a 488 pound bluefin tuna in what is likely the most expensive bluefin ever sold. We'll spare you the math, it works out to roughly $3,600 a pound for a fish that normally costs around $50 a pound.
This year's fish sold for more than double last year's upon which Kimura "only" paid the equivalent of $736,000 for. Apparently this year's price was so exorbitant because Kimura found himself in a brutal bidding war with other sushi mongers.
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What makes this fish so special? Japanese people are wild about "firsts" after the New Year. As we've mentioned elsewhere, New Years is a huge holiday for Japanese. Typical events include watching the first sunrise, making your first visit to temple and even the first shopping of the new year. As this is the year's first fish to be sold it is considered both auspicious and a point of prestige in what we can only imagine is the hyper-competitive business world of sushi.
The fish was purchased at Tokyo's famed Tsukiji fish market. The market is known for its lively early morning fish auctions which were presented in all their glory in the recent documentary, Jiro Dreams of Sushi. These auctions used to be open for public viewing but the hordes of tourists forced a recent reversal of this policy. The market is set to close this year and reopen in a larger and more modern facility in 2014.