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BRUSSELS | Tue May 21, 2013 7:35am EDT

(Reuters) – A Chinese businessman has paid a world record 310,000 euros () for a Belgian pigeon, highlighting Asia’s huge and growing interest in racing birds. 

The one-year-old award-winning pigeon named Bolt was bred by Belgian pigeon fancier Leo Heremans, a well-known name to pigeon enthusiasts, who sold his entire collection of 530 birds for 4.3 million euros at an auction over the weekend.

“You can compare it to artwork. A painting made by Picasso is worth more than one made by an unknown artist. It’s the same with this pigeon,” Nikolaas Gyselbrecht of pigeon auction site PIPA said on Tuesday. 

Because the bird was still young, its new Chinese owner could use it for breeding for at least another eight years, Gyselbrecht said. 

Although the event attracted interest from 27 countries, nine of the 10 most expensive racing pigeons sold at the auction were purchased by clients from China and Taiwan, PIPA said. ($1 = 0.7778 euros) 

(Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Alistair Lyon)