Carlo Gyselbrecht, co-owner of Pipa shows a two-year old female pigeon named New Kim. AFP
A two-year-old Belgian racing pigeon called New Kim set a world record of 1.6 million euros ($1.89 million) at an auction that ended on Sunday, online auctioneers pigeon Paradise (PIPA) said.
The sale beat the 1.25 million euros paid for male pigeon Armando last year, according to PIPA.
"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," Nikolaas Gyselbrecht, CEO and founder of Pipa said.
"I didn't think we could reach that amount."
The Chinese buyer, who was not named, "will probably want to breed her", he added.
Bidding started at 200 euros on Nov. 2, but rose to a bid of 1.31 million euros from a South African group within 90 minutes. Two wealthy Chinese collectors then fought it out on Sunday.
Top European birds have won global fame in recent years and particularly in China where pigeon racing can generate huge winnings.
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.
Gyselbrecht said Belgium alone counts 20,000 breeders for racing birds destined to take part in major competitions.
New Kim was trained by father and son Gaston and Kurt Van De Wouwer at their world-class loft in Berlaar, near Antwerp. They sold their entire "collection" of pigeons on Sunday.
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