(Supplied, pipa)
(Supplied, pipa)
  • A racing pigeon just sold for a record R20 million.
  • The normal price for a serious racing pigeon is usually up to R40,000.
  • The two-week bidding race included names from the USA, South Africa, Belgium, China and The Netherlands.

The "Lewis Hamilton of racing pigeons" was auctioned off online for a record R20 million on Sunday.

Two Chinese fanciers battled it out in the bidding contest for Armando, the "best Belgian long-distance pigeon of all time" according to Auction house Pipa.

During the final hour of the online auction, one bidder known as “XDDPO” had repeatedly upped their offer by €100,000 (around R1.6 million) , only for a second account, known as “Champ Team”, to put in bids of €2,000 (R40,000) more, the Guardian reported.

The auction started on Monday 4 March, and Armando's sale price was already at €300,000 (R4.9 million) after just a few minutes, Pipa – short for Pigeon Paradise - said on its website. It marked the start of an exciting two-week bidding race that involved many international names, from the USA, South Africa, Belgium, China and The Netherlands. 

The final bid of €1,252,000 (R20 million) smashed the previous record of €400,000 (R6.5 million) paid by Xing Wei, a Chinese property tycoon, in 2017. 

An elite group of Chinese pigeon fanciers have pushed the prices of racing birds to record highs, the Financial Times reported last year. 

"It was unreal, the feeling - it was something out of this world," Nikolaas Gyselbrecht, the CEO of Pipa, told the BBC of the moment someone put down a bid of more than €1m. "In our wildest dreams, we had never hoped for a price like that. We hoped for around €400,000 to €500,000, and we only dreamed of €600,000."

The usual price for a racing pigeon is around €2,500 (R40,000), Gyselbrecht added.

Gyselbrecht says that racing pigeons can carry on having chicks until they're about 10, and live up to 20.

It's likely Armando's new owners will breed him and race his progeny.

Previous owner Joël Verschoot, 63, from Ingelmunster in west Flanders, told the Guardian Armando was born to be a champion but he had never dreamed of such a huge sum being paid for it.

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