$2.3 mn for a photo? Yes, if its Billy the Kid
A photograph taken about 130 years ago in which the legendary gunslinger, Billy the Kid, poses looking at the camera and leaning a little stiffly on his Winchester rifle sold at an auction for $2.3 million.world Updated: Jun 30, 2011 10:51 IST
A photograph taken about 130 years ago in which the legendary gunslinger, Billy the Kid, poses looking at the camera and leaning a little stiffly on his Winchester rifle sold at an auction for $2.3 million.
The tintype image was the star attraction at Brian Lebel's annual Old West Show and Auction in Denver.
The only picture authentically identified as that of the young gunman was made using an early form of photography that imprinted the image on thin metal plates.
The sale price far surpassed Lebel's pre-auction estimate of $300,000-$400,000. The bidding included five people who jockeyed for the photo and in just a few minutes the bids had topped $1 million.
"There's only one photo of Billy the Kid, and I think that's why it captivates people's imagination," auction spokeswoman Melissa McCracken said before the sale began.
The buyer, 71 year old Florida businessman William Koch, said that he has a passionate interest in the Old West.
Asked about his plans for the photo, Koch said: "I plan on enjoying it and discreetly sharing it. I think I'll display it in a few small museums."
Koch also owns other unique mementoes of the Old West, including a rifle that belonged to Gen George Armstrong Custer and guns owned by outlaw brothers Jesse and Frank James.
Historians believe that Billy the Kid, whose real name was Henry McCarty, had the photo taken in 1879 or 1880 at Fort Sumner, New Mexico. The gunman gave the tintype to a friend, Dan Dedrick, whose descendants owned it until the auction.
Popular legend attributes 21 murders to The Kid, although historians claim that actually he only gunned down nine men.
Billy the Kid was only 21 when he died July 14, 1881, from a shot fired by Sheriff Pat Garrett.