A wealthy Chinese pigeon racing fan has put down a world record price of €1.6m for a Belgian-bred bird.
Three-year-old hen New Kim was the focus of a two-week auction, and the final price was reached as the bidding came to an end yesterday.
During a frantic last half-hour, two Chinese bidders operating under the pseudo- nyms of Super Duper and Hitman drove up the price by €280,000.
The final total left the previous record that Belgian-bred Armando fetched last year well behind by €350,000.
Super Duper submitted the winning bid.
Successful breeder Gaston Van de Wouwer retired at 76 and his son had too busy a professional life to continue the famed pigeon coop.
All 445 birds were put on auction and the overall sale was closing in on ¤5m.
China often features one-loft racing, where pigeons are released many hundreds of kilometres from their coop and have to make their way back with their unique sense of orientation and special speed training.
Prize pots can reach tens of millions of euro.