A man bought the old photo for $2—but it turned out to be worth millions.
The value skyrocketed after experts confirmed that one of the figures in the picture, which shows 15 people in front of an old cabin, is the notorious outlaw Billy the Kid.
It’s only the second picture confirmed of the infamous fugitive, whose real name was William Bonney.
For the $2 he spent to buy three old photographs, Randy Guijarro may have hit the mother lode. Among them was a tintype purported to be of Wild West gunslinger Billy the Kid, now valued at $5 million.
Billy the Kid is in the middle of a croquet game in New Mexico in the picture, which was taken in 1878.
Kagin’s, a firm specializing in Western Americana and Rare Coins, authenticated the picture.
“The historical importance of a photograph of Billy the Kid alongside known members of his gang and prominent Lincoln County citizens is incalculable. This is perhaps the single most compelling piece of Western Americana that we have ever seen,” the owner of Kagin’s, Donald Kagin, said in a statement on the company’s website.
Collector Randy Guijarro told KSEE that buying the now-famous photo was a last-minute decision.
“I had just a couple of bucks left, and I found three photographs I liked, and of the three, the oldest tintype, I actually kind of chucked it back in the box,” he told the station.
As reported by Esquire magazine, the photo is worth $5 million.
“It’s the holy grail of not just western photography. It’s the holy grail of photography,” said Jeff Aiello, the head of a new Billy the Kid documentary, according to Esquire. “It is the rarest photograph in the world and it was found in a Fresno junk shop.”
The other known Billy the Kid picture was sold for $2.3 million in 2011.
David McCarthy, who works for Kagin’s company, told NBC News that it’s the only photo that includes members of Billy the Kid’s gang.
Although much of Billy’s life is steeped in legend, he was shot and killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett in New Mexico in the late 19th century.
“When we first saw the photograph, we were understandably skeptical—an original Billy the Kid photo is the Holy Grail of Western Americana. … “We had to be certain that we could answer and verify where, when, how and why this photograph was taken. Simple resemblance is not enough in a case like this—a team of experts had to be assembled to address each and every detail in the photo to insure that nothing was out of place. After more than a year of methodical study including my own inspection of the site, there is now overwhelming evidence of the image’s authenticity,” the statement reads.
Another Billy the Kid Photo Sells for $10
In recent years, another photo of the outlaw surfaced after a man purchased it for $10.
It may show Billy the Kid and Garrett.
This 137-year-old photo, said to show US outlaw Billy the Kid with his killer, was bought at a flea market for $US10 just a few years ago.
The rare picture was bought by history buff Frank Abrams, of North Carolina, according to WNCN.
“I said, ‘Oh my gosh, he looks like Pat Garrett,’” Abrams said after he started researching the image.
— CBS 17 (@WNCN) November 14, 2017
“It’s incredible. … Five trips across the country, forensic experts, professors have looked at it, others have looked at it. … It’s … I’m ecstatic. I feel like one of the luckiest people in the world. To find this is a privilege,” Abrams said.