A photo of the Western outlaw Billy the Kid, purchased for $2 at a junk shop, could sell for $5 million at auction, according to a rare coin dealer in California.
In 2010, Randy Guijarro purchased the photo for $2 as part of a miscellaneous lot at a Fresno, Calif., junk shop, according to a statement from Kagin’s Inc., the company that confirmed the photo’s authenticity.
The 4×5 “tintype” shows the outlaw and members of his gang playing croquet near a small cabin. The photo was taken in the summer of 1878, according to Kagin’s, which is also negotiating the sale of the image.
“When we first saw the photograph, we were understandably skeptical – an original Billy the Kid photo is the Holy Grail of Western Americana,” David McCarthy, Kagin’s senior numismatist, said in a statement.
It took almost a year and a team of experts to confirm that the photo was authentic, according to McCarthy.
“We had to be certain that we could answer and verify where, when, how and why this photograph was taken,” he said in the statement. “Simple resemblance is not enough in a case like this.”The image is appraised for $5 million, based on the sale of the only other known photograph of the Kid, which went for $2.3 million in 2010, according to the statement.
Guijarro’s journey to authenticate the image and the backstory behind the photo will be featured on the National Geographic special “Billy the Kid: New Evidence” on Oct. 18 2015.