Bluefin Tuna Sells For $1.8 Million at Auction in Tokyo

Not a new record, but close

Tokyo fish market
A 608-pound bluefin tuna sold at auction in Tokyo for $1.8 million.
武藏/Creative Commons
By Tobias Carroll / January 14, 2020 1:07 pm

Under the right circumstances, an auction can be thrilling to behold. In Tokyo, there’s a particular auction held regularly which frequently draws interested spectators from around the world. But in this case, these auctions aren’t for famed art, vintage cars or cinematic memorabilia.

Instead, the auctions held at the Toyosu wholesale fish market are of, well, fish — and sometimes the spectators amassed there can see massive sums of money change hands. 

Make that “massive sums of money, and also fish.” Earlier this month, one of the largest amounts was paid for tuna at an auction there: $1.8 million for a 608-pound bluefin tuna.

The buyer was Kiyoshi Kimura of the restaurant company Sushizanmai. He’s no stranger to paying large sums of money for prime cuts of seafood: last year, he paid $3.1 million for a tuna there. At the time, Kimura was quoted as saying, “The tuna looks so tasty and very fresh, but I think I did too much.” Which means that he may have literally found himself with…too much tuna. 

Kimura’s $3.1 million purchase remains the record for tuna purchased at auction. At the time, The New York Times explored his fondness for paying massive sums for fish, in a headline that referred to him as the “King of Tuna.” 

“Mr. Kimura has made it a habit of paying record prices for highly sought fish. Saturday’s purchase broke his own record of 155.4 million yen, or about $1.76 million, that he paid for a 488-pound bluefin, in 2013.”

Late last year, the market for bluefin tuna underwent something of a downturn in late summer. Given this month’s high-profile sale, it’s likely safe to say that downturn is much less of a concern than it once was.

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