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PIPA (Flanders) auctions off record-breaking prize pigeons

What started as a hobby twenty years ago has now turned into a million-dollar business for Nikolaas Gyselbrecht, owner and founder of Pigeon Paradise (Flanders), one of the world’s largest online auction houses for racing pigeons. With a turnover of EUR 35 million recorded this year and the record-breaking auction of New Kim – a prize bird from the province of East Flanders –, the wind is favorable, to say the least. “But growth for the sake of growth is not our purpose,” says Gyselbrecht.

Most expensive pigeon ever

Headquartered in Knesselare, in the province of East Flanders, Pigeon Paradise (PIPA) unites thousands of buyers and sellers from Europe, Asia and the Middle East every week to trade in top pigeons. On 15 November 2020, New Kim, a prestigious award-winning bird, was sold there to a Chinese investor for EUR 1.6 million, the highest amount ever offered for a top pigeon in Europe.

Chinese industrialists in particular are keen on buying pigeons bred in Flanders. They want the real thing, and a pigeon with a ring from Flanders is worth gold.

Nikolaas Gyselbrecht
owner and founder of Pigeon Paradise

A rejuvenating market

While pigeon racing as a sport isn’t as popular in Flanders as it used to be, pigeon keeping has become big business. In the 1950s, there were still a quarter of a million pigeon fanciers in Belgium and Flanders as a region. Today, there are only 20,000 members of the Royal Belgian Pigeon Fanciers’ Association. But Gyselbrecht still sees a lot of potential: “We only auction off pigeons from the top 100 of the largest and most successful pigeon fanciers. There, we definitely notice a revival of interest among people in their thirties or forties looking for a high-yield investment. An exclusivity agreement with Pipa can yield them EUR 300,000 to 600,000 per year.”

“We are the cream of the crop,” Gyselbrecht adds. “Every pigeon on the website has been fully inspected by our experts, who report a precise description of the profile, proportions, muscle tone and eyes in eight languages. We also take care of transport.”

A million-dollar twentieth birthday

Pigeon Paradise was founded in 2000 as an online platform for up-to-date news about the pigeon-driven sport. Today, the company employs 100 full-time personnel – many of which work abroad – and has 10,000 unique buyers and 18,000 unique accounts on its worldwide auction site.

More info

Pigeon Paradise (PIPA)
Reported by
newspaper De Tijd
20 November 2020

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