A wealthy buyer from China has purchased what could be the most expensive pigeon ever. The pigeon, bred for racing, was sold after a two-week bidding war for $1.9 million.
The Belgian-bred racing pigeon, named New Kim, was sold to a buyer in China bidding under the pseudonym "Super Duper." The purchase price of the pigeon set a new world record, beating out the previous record set last year. The previous record was for a racing pigeon named Armando, which sold for $1.4 million.
The pigeon was sold by a member of the Belgian Pigeon Federation. According to reports citing sources with knowledge of the matter, the person that purchased New Kim is the same person that purchased Armando last year. The unidentified buyer is reportedly planning to breed the pigeons.
Most of the pigeons that were sold at the auction were owned by pigeon breeder Gaston Van de Wouwer. The breeder, who has just announced his retirement, put up 445 pigeons for sale. At the end of bidding, the auction had generated more than $7 million in sales.
The international pigeon racing community has recognized Belgians as the best breeders. This is mostly owing to their generations-long experience in the sport and their vast network of expert breeders.
Creating a winning breed of pigeons is a life-long endeavor. It takes years to properly mix and mate champion competitors. Experts at genetic breeding said that the practice often takes decades and the assurance of breeding a winning bird is not guaranteed.
Modern pigeon racing originated in Belgium in the early to mid-19th century. The sport declined in popularity leading into the 20th century but it has since seen new interest, particularly in the Middle East and Asia.
The sport is particularly popular in India and Taiwan, where hundreds of pigeon racing events are held each year. The prize money for such races, along with organized public gambling, is estimated to be worth tens of billions of dollars.