A California collector appears poised to cash in to the tune of $5 million, just five years after paying just $2 for what has turned out to be only the second known photo of Western outlaw Billy the Kid.
The tintype, dating to 1878, depicts Billy the Kid and several members of his gang, the Regulators, playing croquet outside a Lincoln County, N.M., building, according to Kagin’s Inc., the company that authenticated the photo and is handling its sale.
The photo was apparently taken after a wedding, the company said.
Collector Randy Guijarro told CNN affiliate KSEE in August that purchasing the 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.
But he said he heard a voice in his head urging him to keep it, so he did.
Since, the photo has been authenticated by a photography expert and a facial recognition expert who has reportedly done work for the National Security Agency and the FBI, according to KSEE.
Billy the Kid — also known as Henry McCarty and William Bonney — is one of the best-known figures of the American West, simultaneously a folk hero and an outlaw credited with at least eight murders.
“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,” Kagin’s owner Donald Kagin said in a statement on the company’s website.
The company has appraised the photo’s value at $5 million.
The only other known Billy the Kid photo sold for $2.3 million in 2011.
The effort to authenticate the photo will be the subject of an upcoming National Geographic Channel documentary.