This is slightly higher than the € 1.25m for Armando, the top sale at last year’s auction
Who knew a pigeon at hand, could rake €1.6m in the bank? A two-year-old Belgian racing pigeon called New Kim sold at a public auction for a record €1.6m (£1.4m) ending this Saturday. Offers for Kim were already at €1.32m last week.
Belgium is the place to go when looking for the best racing pigeons. Seasoned breeding families were confused after an anonymous Chinese buyer drove in and bought the female pigeon named New Kim at an auction for € 1.6m.On Sunday, a bidding war broke out at the last minute between two anonymous Chinese bidders raising the bird’s price to an all-time high.
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New Kim earned her stripes as Belgium’s top racing pigeon and is now in early retirement. The bird was owned by Gaston Van de Wouwer, a renowned pigeon breeder who also decided to retire at 76. The public auction featured his entire stable where he rears a total of 450 pigeons, collectively fetching over € 7 million. Breeding pigeons is not an easy task. It requires constant attention every single day. Most of those demands turned away modern folk sending the entire sport into a frantic decline over time.
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Pigeon racing was once big in Belgium, till it began to fade in the mid 20th century. Belgian pigeon federation collectively counts over 18,000 members, a decline from post World War II highs of 250,000. Nevertheless, the Belgian are considered some of the best pigeon breeders on the planet even capturing the attention of Chinese buyers.
The economic rise of China has prompted new opportunities for recreational spenders, with pigeon racing becoming a new arena for the gambling industry - raking in 6 digit profits. Before Kim completed the sale, the previous record-holder was Armando, a Belgian pigeon selling for € 1.25 million last year.
China features one-loft racing where pigeons are familiarized with one coop, then released far out to use their sense of orientation and special speed training to make their way back. Prize pots can run to the tens of millions.