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Racing pigeon Bolt sells for a record $400,000

A Belgian racing pigeon called Bolt was sold on Tuesday to a Chinese businessman for a record $400,000.
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A pigeon stands at the rooftop of a building in Cairo 18 February 2006. (Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images)

A Belgian racing pigeon called Bolt was sold on Tuesday to a Chinese businessman for a record $400,000.

The pigeon, named after Olympic gold-medalist Usain Bolt, is expected to be used for breeding more birds. Nine of the 10 most expensive pigeons sold at the auction were paid for by buyers from China or Taiwan.

Bolt was bred by well-known Belgian pigeon fancier Leo Heremans.

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"A painting made by Picasso is worth more than one made by an unknown artist. It's the same with this pigeon," said Nikolaas Gyselbrecht of pigeon auction site Pipa.

Heremans's whole collection of 530 birds sold for 4.3 million euros ($5.6 million) at the auction.

Prior to the sale of one-year-old Bolt, the record for the sale of a single bird was 250,000 euros ($322,000) in January 2012.

"I was stunned by the prices offered," said Gyselbrecht.

While the price of the most expensive pigeon has jumped dramatically in the last few years and the number of Chinese owners has increased, the number of Belgian coop owners has dwindled.

Just after World War II, when the sport of pigeon racing was huge, Belgium's pigeon federation had 250,000 members. Today, China has around 300,000 pigeon fanciers.

Belgium now has a population of 10.5 million, while China, the world's most populous country, has 1.35 billion people.

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