KNESSELARE (Belgium): An employee of Pipa, a Belgian auction house for racing pigeons, shows a two-year old female pigeon after an auction on Sunday.—AP
KNESSELARE (Belgium): An employee of Pipa, a Belgian auction house for racing pigeons, shows a two-year old female pigeon after an auction on Sunday.—AP

BRUSSELS: An unidentified Chinese buyer on Sunday paid a world record 1.6 million euros ($1.9 million) for a female homing pigeon called New Kim, online auctioneers Pigeon Paradise (PIPA) said.

The sale beat the 1.25 million euros paid for male pigeon Armando last year, according to PIPA.

New Kim, a well-bred two-ear-old from a renowned Antwerp loft, was put up for auction at just 200 euros.

“I believe it’s a world record, there has never been an officially documented sale at such a price,” PIPA chairman Nikolaas Gyselbrecht said.

“I didn’t think we could reach that amount.” The buyer, who was not named, “will probably want to breed her”, he added.

New Kim won the 2018 crown as “Ace Pigeon Grand National Middle Distance” in competitions held at Chteauroux and Argenton-sur-Creuse in France.

Top European birds have won global fame in recent years and particularly in China where pigeon racing can generate huge winnings.

Wealthy buyers from the Gulf and Asia have forced up prices for champion birds for their instinctive ability to fly as many as hundreds of kilometres (miles) and still find their way back home.

Pigeon fancying is rooted in Belgian and Dutch life with the tradition spreading over to northern France.

The sport had been considered in decline until auctions started showing serious prices for potential champions and proven winners.

Published in Dawn, November 16th, 2020