News ID: 276844
Published: 0640 GMT November 16, 2020

Belgian racing pigeon sets fanciers' hearts aflutter in €1.6m sale

Belgian racing pigeon sets fanciers' hearts aflutter in €1.6m sale
FRANCISCO SECO/AP
Carlo Gyselbrecht, co-owner of Pipa, shows New Kim, a two-year-old female, after the auction ended. 

A two-year-old Belgian racing pigeon called New Kim has been sold for a world-record €1.6 million (£1.4 million) in an auction that ended on Sunday.

Offers for the pigeon had already hit €1.32 million in the past week, surpassing the previous record of €1,252,000 set in March 2019 for another Belgian pigeon, Armando. They then went higher in a frantic last 30 minutes of bidding on Sunday, according to theguardian.com.

“These record prices are unbelievable, because this is a female. Armando was a male. Usually a male is worth more than a female because it can produce more offspring,” said Nikolaas Gyselbrecht, the chief executive of Pipa, the online auction house that conducted the sale.

Gyselbrecht said New Kim was only two years old and only raced in 2018, earning the title of best young bird in Belgium and prompting an early retirement. Pigeons can typically breed until 10, so New Kim potentially has many years of chicks ahead.

Bidding started at €200 on November 2 and rose to €1.31 million in less than 90 minutes with a bid from a South African group. Two wealthy Chinese collectors then fought it out on Sunday.

“The only thing I can see is we are in total shock,” said Kurt Van de Wouwer, whose family bred New Kim.

Chinese enthusiasm for long-distance pigeon racing has driven prices up sharply, with birds from Belgium, which is considered the traditional heartland of the sport, being particularly prized.

Gyselbrecht said no other country had such a high concentration of pigeon enthusiasts as Belgium.

“So you have 20,000 pigeon fanciers in a very small country competing with each other on a very high level. It’s like the Champions League,” he said.

   
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