A pigeon described as the “best ever” has been sold for £1 million – a record fee.
Joel Verschoot’s bird Armando was sold by auction house Pipa for 1,252,000 euros (£1.07 million) after a two-week online bidding war. The figure made Armando the most valuable bird ever sold in an online auction, according to Pipa, dwarfing the previous record of 376,000 euros (£322,000), which was set in November.
Nikolaas Gyselbrecht, the founder and chief executive of Pipa, told the Press Association: “This pigeon has a race record that has never been matched by any other pigeon.
It also beat the record offline price of 500,000 euros (£428,000) paid for a pigeon named Mr Fantastic, Mr Gyselbrecht said.
Armando attracted bids from countries around the world, including the United States, South Africa and Belgium.
But the price, already a record, was pushed up by about 700,000 euros (£600,000) by two Chinese fanciers in the final hour of the two-week auction.
“There was nobody in the pigeon world who thought that would happen,” said Mr Gyselbrecht.
“We were hoping for four or five hundred thousand, and maybe a little bit dreaming of six.”
Armando is retired from racing at five years old, but holds such high value because of his breeding potential.
A number of his offspring were sold for five-figure sums in the same auction.
The bird has been described as the “Lewis Hamilton of pigeons” but the name does not impress Mr Gyselbrecht.
“I don’t know how important Lewis Hamilton is in Formula One,” he said. “Is he the best ever?