April 28, 2013 – Wealthy Chinese have been paying record prices for contemporary art and top wines while shelling out for some the world’s most expensive cars. Turns out they’re also the driving force behind the princely sums being paid for top-quality pigeons.
A Chinese shipping magnate last weekend spent 250,400 euros ($328,000) for a Dutch pigeon, a new world record according to Pipa, the firm that ran the online auction.
These aren’t your ordinary birds that eat scraps in the park but ones bred for the arcane sport of pigeon racing, which has a cult following in England, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany and, increasingly, China.
The buyer, Hu Zhen Yu, runs Zhenyu Holding Group in Wenzhou. He told Pipa that he wants to “focus more and more on the pigeon sport.” Zhenyu last year sponsored a pigeon race in Wenzhou that awarded 7 million yuan ($1.1 million) in prize money.
Pigeon racing has traditionally been a rural pastime, and the entrance of wealthy Chinese hobbyists is ruffling some feathers. The Telegraph quoted veterans of the sport complaining about the high bids and loss of the birds to another continent.
A Chinese buyer was responsible for the previous pigeon auction record, set last year: $200,000 for a Belgian pigeon named Blue Prince.
“We must not forget pigeon racing is a simple sport to be enjoyed by all who wish to become involved for the right reasons,” Ken Ambler, a pigeon fancier who took up the sport 70 years ago, wrote in a comment on Pipa’s auction announcement. (Photo Credit AP, Narrative – The Wall Street Journal)
The Master of Disaster