What is in your garage? Photo bought for $2 is worth $5 million
Collector, Randy Guijarro visited a junk shop in Fresno in 2010 and took home a vintage picture for $2. What he didn’t know then was that this photo is a rare photo of the notorious outlaw, Billy the Kid now valued at $5 million. Talk about the purchase of a lifetime!

Living for only 22 short years, Billy the Kid, born as William Henry McCarty Jr, made a name for himself as highly violent and experienced gunman in the American Old West. 130 years later he has been immortalized in books and movies and, whether or not the stories are all true, he is a staple in Wild West folklore.

Original photos of Billy the Kid are extremely rare and considered the Holy Grail for Americana collectors according to David McCarthy of Kagins, Inc, an Americana company. The 4x5 inch tintype image shows Billy playing croquet with his posse of Lincolns Country Regulators in New Mexico in 1878. Supposedly Billy and his gang had just attended a wedding and only a month prior had participating in the bloody Lincoln County war. The sale of this historic photo will be negotiated by Kagin’s, Inc., who have estimated it could sell for $5 million. The photo is so valuable that experts were initially skeptical about its authenticity and according to McCarthy “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.” The Kagin’s team left no stone unturned and investigated each person shown in the photo, the photo location, and even vintage croquet sets. After one year of examination the image has been deemed authentic and it’s back story will be detailed in a National Geographic Channel special airing on October 18th entitled “Billy the Kid: New Evidence,” narrated by Kevin Costner.

This photo is considered to be only the second known photo of Billy the Kid in existence. The only other known photo was taken in 1880 and was auctioned off for $2.3 million in 2011 to William Koch, a well known collector of Americana artifacts. At the time it was the 4th most expensive photo ever sold.

Other photos claiming to depict the famous renegade have surfaced over the years but none have been properly authenticated, until now. Experts are hopeful that this historic photo will sell for twice the amount of the 1st Billy photo given that it offers a rare glimpse into the life of one the most notorious figures of the Wild West. It’s not every day that a $2 thrift store find turns into a $5 million piece of American history. It’s enough to make you want to start clearing out the attic hoping to uncover the next priceless historic artifact.

By Meg Venable
Collectibles Central