For most of us, pigeons are annoying pests. But to a very niche demographic of very rich people, pigeons are worth millions. Or more specifically, US$1.42 million, which is what one Chinese buyer paid on Sunday for a single racing pigeon from Belgium named Armando.
The sale took place after two weeks of online bidding, which saw two Chinese buyers push Armando's price to three times that of the last record-setting pigeon, which was US$426,422, paid by another Chinese property tycoon in 2017.
Prior to the auction, Armando was dubbed the “Lewis Hamilton of pigeons,” after winning three races throughout his five-year career. The title—which referred to the British racing driver—apparently helped to drive up the bird's value.
Nikolaas Gyselbrecht, CEO of the world's leading pigeon website, PIPA, was apparently just as astounded by the sale, telling the BBC: “in our wildest dreams, we had never hoped for a price like that."
He also mentioned that the usual price tag for a racing pigeon is around US$2.800.
Despite its international base in Belgium, pigeon racing has swelled in popularity among the Chinese elite. In fact the country's new interest in the sport is causing pigeon prices to balloon, and especially for those from Belgium.
But interestingly Armando is five, which is considered old for a pigeon, signalling the end his racing days are over. So why the fuss over a pigeon that can’t race?
Well, on top of having a few fertile years ahead of him, Armando’s offspring were also auctioned for about US$34,000 each. His retirement will be well-spent with a female in China, who was also purchased at a large sum, according to the Guardian.
And so the strategic family planning here practically makes this anonymous Chinese buyer the Kris Jenner of pigeons.
For more stories like this, follow Edoardo on Instagram.
This article originally appeared on VICE ASIA.