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Chinese magnate drops $328,000 on world's most expensive pigeon

A Chinese shipping magnate has paid a world record-high $328,000 for a Dutch pigeon, according to an international pigeon auction house.

Belgium-based PIPA, short for Pigeon Paradise, said the bird was one of 245 put up for an online auction by Pieter Veenstra of the Dutch village of Drachtstercompagnie, Radio Netherlands reported.

The auction total take of $2.5 million was also a record, PIPA said.

The buyer of the most-expensive pigeon on record, PIPA said, is Hu Zhen Yu, who runs a shipbuilding company in China.

Hu also is the owner of a South China pigeon-racing group and told PIPA he intends to increase his focus on the sport, which is popular in Britain, Belgium, Holland and Germany, the Telegraph of London said.

He intends to breed the female pigeon rather than race it, the Telegraph said.

Nikolaas Gyselbrecht, the owner of PIPA, noted in a 2010 interview a growing interest in pigeons by Chinese buyers. PIPA, which sent representatives to pigeon exhibitions in China last year, also boasts on its website that prices for pigeons are soaring.

That has some in the sport concerned, the Telegraph said.

"We must not forget pigeon racing is a simple sport to be enjoyed by all who wish to become involved for the right reasons," Ken Ambler, a British pigeon fancier told the Telegraph.

Ambler said the sport he took up 70 years ago was transformed with expensive birds now "housed in luxury" compared to "the basic orange box lofts of yesteryear," the Telegraph reported.

The previous top-selling pigeon was Euro Diamond, an 8-year-old retired Flemish pigeon famed for long flights. It sold for $225,000 in November 2010, according to media reports.