March 18, 2019 / 4:03 PM / a month ago

Million-dollar birdie: Belgian pigeon smashes price record

FILE PHOTO: Racing pigeons are displayed for sale at the Pigeon Olympiad 2017 in Brussels, Belgium January 29, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A Belgian racing pigeon called Armando has sold at auction for nearly $1.5 million, more than three times the world record, the online saleroom said on Monday after a bidding war between two Chinese fanciers.

“Nobody expected this. No one,” Jorge Ferrari from the Pigeon Paradise auction site told Reuters.

Chinese enthusiasm for the long-distance racing of homing pigeons has driven prices up sharply, with birds from the traditional heartland of the sport in Belgium being particularly prized. (reut.rs/2Ji22LF)

However, until the furious bidding that lasted throughout Sunday evening, the record price stood at 376,000 euros ($426,422). Armando, a record-breaking long-distance racing champion owned by Joel Verschoot, was eventually sold to an anonymous buyer in China for 1,252,000 euros ($1.42 million).

In an indication of how the buyer may hope to recoup the investment, not only can race prize money in China reach seven figures but seven of Armando’s offspring were also auctioned for an average price of 21,500 euros each; the five-year-old Flemish flier may have highly profitable breeding years ahead of him.

Reporting by Clare Roth; Editing by Alastair Macdonald and Andrew Heavens

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