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Belgium's New Kim becomes Europe's most expensive racing pigeon
Belgium’s New Kim has become Europe's most expensive racing pigeon, being sold at auction to an anonymous buyer from China for €1.6m ($1.9m, £1.4m). The two-year-old is in fact the most expensive female pigeon ever sold in the world.
The sale of the pigeon, raised by a breeder in Berlaar, broke the previous record of €1.2 million, paid for a four-year-old male named Armando. That pigeon, also from Belgium, was also known as the "Lewis Hamilton of pigeons" after the Formula 1 world champion.
"The buyer is the same person that bought Armando," Nikolaas Gyselbrecht of the auction site Pigeon Paradise (PIPA) told VRT. "He will probably bring the two together." Racing pigeons can carry on having chicks until they are about 10 and it is expected that New Kim's new owners will use her for breeding.
The auction over the weekend, which ended on Monday, is expected to net the family of pigeon breeders in Berlaar around €3.7 million if they sell all their 445 birds. The likelihood is that they could raise a lot more.
New Kim was initially put up for auction for just €200 but was bought by the bidder from China on Sunday for the enormous fee. Kurt Van de Wouwer, whose family bred and owned the pigeon, said they were "in shock" at the news.
As well as becoming a record breaker, New Kim is an anomaly as female pigeons rarely go for as much as males. "Normally, a male fetches more, because he can have more offspring; the number of eggs in a female is limited. So, this makes the amount for the female New Kim even more impressive," Gyselbrecht says.
Previous record holder Armando was retired and had already fathered several chicks when he was put up for sale in 2019.
Belgium is world-famous as a country of pigeon fanciers, and the level of racing birds is extremely high. "We have about 20,000 breeders here,” says Gyselbrecht. “There is really a high density of pigeon fanciers, competing with each other. It's like the Champions League. If you are the best here, you have really good pigeons."