Nov 15, 2020, | Forbes
Belgian-bred pigeons are known as the best in the world of pigeon racing, but even seasoned breeding families were left stunned after an anonymous Chinese buyer swooped in to buy a female pigeon named New Kim for a whopping $1.9 million at auction Sunday.
Bids on New Kim had already reached $1.5 million during the two-week auction, but a bidding war that broke out Sunday at the last minute between two anonymous bidders from China led the female bird to beat the all-time high price for a pigeon.
New Kim is two years old, according to Reuters, and retired early from racing after being named Belgium’s best young pigeon.
According to the Associated Press, New Kim was bred and owned by Gaston Van de Wouwer, an acclaimed pigeon breeder in Belgium who has decided to retire.
New Kim’s exorbitant price left the family “in total shock,” Kurt Van de Wouwer, a relative of Gaston’s, told Reuters.
The auction featured Van de Wouwer’s entire stable of nearly 450 pigeons, which have collectively fetched nearly $5.8 million with buying slated to end Monday, AP reported.
Once one of the country’s top interests, pigeon racing has become less popular in Belgium since the mid-twentieth century. The Belgian pigeon federation counts 18,000 members, a steep drop from the more than 250,000 registered just after the second World War, according to AP. However, Belgians are still regarded as the best pigeon breeders on earth, and have captured the attention of Chinese buyers. China’s economic rise has opened up new opportunities for recreational spending in the country, and pigeon racing has emerged as a popular gambling sport with winnings in the five-digits, AP reported. Before New Kim’s sale Sunday, the previous record holder was a male named Armando, another Belgian pigeon that went for nearly $1.5 million last year.