New Kim: $1.9 Million Pigeon

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New Kim, a two-year-old female, Belgian-bred racing pigeon, was sold for $1.9 million in Knesselare, Belgium at Belgium’s P.I.P.A. Pigeon Center, breaking the record for most expensive pigeon. Initially put up at $237.46, New Kim broke the previous world record of $1.4 million on November 15th, 2020.

Pigeon racing is the sport of specially crossbred and trained pigeons, released at specific locations to race back to their homes. The pigeon owners, otherwise known as pigeon fanciers, put the pigeons in the same loft, where they are taken hundreds, or possibly thousands of miles away, then set free but tracked. The pigeons are able to be tracked due to a ring around their foot. This ring allows the event supervisors to calculate the birds’ speeds. This is how the winners of the race are determined, based upon the speed of the pigeon. Different types of weather and distance can sometimes affect the final results and the winner themselves. After the pigeon arrives back at its original loft, the owner can see their bird’s ranking online. 

Originating in Belgium, pigeon racing started in 1818 with a long-distance race, more than 100 miles. As of now, there are more than 800 pigeon breeds and the racing pigeon is part of the homing pigeons. Homing pigeons are a type of domestic pigeon specifically bred to deliver messages and other services. These pigeons were a means of communication in the 18 and 1700s, commonly used throughout the century. Now, not as popular, these pigeons are used in the art of racing.

The online auction had the recent most expensive pigeon being Armando for a total of $1.4 million, who was sold on March 19th, 2019. Armando was sold by Joël Verschoot, a retired abattoir manager from Ingelmunster in West Flanders. This prize-winning racing pigeon was bought by an anonymous Chinese buyer in a bidding war, where both bidders expected to use this pigeon for breeding. 

The same buyer had also bought New Kim through another bidding war as well, although New Kim’s seller was different, as it was a father and son duo, Kurt and Gaston Van de Wouwer. The bidders went under the names of Super Duper and Hitman, where Super Duper managed to outbid Hitman in the last half hour of the auction.

“These record prices are unbelievable because this is a female,” Nikolaas Gyselbrecht, the CEO and founder of the auction house P.I.P.A., told Reuters. “Usually a male is worth more than a female because it can produce more offspring.”

New Kim is a two-year-old pigeon who had retired early after being titled, “Belgium’s Best Young Pigeon.” This bird had, for the first time in history, broken the world record for most expensive pigeon, bought at a price of $1.9 million.