Diamond in the Rough: Racing Pigeon Sells for $1.9 Million

  • New Kim sold to a Chinese bidder, rumored to have bought the last most expensive pigeon, Armando.

In a story too bizarre to be made up, a Belgian racing pigeon named New Kim sold for $1.9 million after a frenetic half-hour of bidding between Super Duper and Hitman, two Chinese bidders. The previous record for a racing pigeon goes back to 2019 (ah, a simpler time) when Armando sold for $409,000. 

Are these pigeons made of gold? Are they setting world records for speed? 

Photo by sanjiv nayak on Unsplash

The answer’s no, but they are a special breed of pigeon (who knew there even were different breeds?) called racing homers. They look exactly like your average city pigeon, but I bet you’ll start looking at those birds differently now. Pigeon racing has a long history, possibly thousands of years, but its popularity seriously declined after the invention of television. 

Hipsters Are Probably to Blame

The Belgians have brought back the sport of taking birds away from their home, some distance between 60 and 600 miles, and releasing them. Despite the vast distances, races are often won or lost by a beak. And, like any other human endeavor that involves uncertainty or risk, there’s a vibrant betting industry surrounding the races. 

In recent years, the Chinese have gotten more involved with the sport. I mean, if you have $1.9 million to spend on a pigeon, why not? It’s rumored that the bidder who secured New Kim also owns Armando, meaning they can breed the two super-elite birds and sell off the eggs. However, it’s hard to imagine making a profit after you’ve sunk $2.3 million into pigeons

We All Deserve a Pigeon-Free Retirement

Photo by Viktor Forgacs on Unsplash

You might wonder what con artist sold the bird for that much. It’s a world-renowned breeder, Gaston Van de Wouwer, which sounds made up, but the Associated Press reported it so, okay. At 76, he’s ready to retire, and his family wasn’t interested in carrying on the family trade. The coop sold all 445 birds–imagine what that smelled like–with the auction racking up $7 million before the sale of New Kim. 


If you’re ready to get into the trade, keep in mind it requires dealing with pigeons. Pascal Bodengien, the head of the Belgian pigeon federation (yes, a real thing), has some words of caution for those tempted by the $10 million race prizes, “To be the best, it has to be your life’s work. For some, it may seem boring. Day in, day out. Winter, summer, always those pigeons.”