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One California man’s $2 junk shop find could go for as much as $5 million at auction.
The man, Randy Guijarro, purchased the 4-by-5-inch tintype photo as part of a miscellaneous lot from a Fresno junk shop in 2010, according to the New York Post. That photo was of Billy The Kid, a legendary outlaw of the American Wild West during the 19th century who was wanted by the state of New Mexico.
The photo is extremely valuable as only one other photo of Billy The Kid is known to exist. The other 130-year-old photo sold for $2.3 million in 2010 at an auction in Denver, Colorado.
Guijarro made sure that his find was the real deal by handing it over to Western memorabilia experts at Kagin’s, Inc., to authenticate. The senior numismatist at Kagin’s, Inc., David McCarthy, said of his reaction:
“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.”
Billy the Kid, whose birth name is actually William Henry McCarty Jr., was born in 1859 in New York City. He was infamous as a thief and gunman who killed a number of people during his time. He was constantly on the run from law enforcement and was shot and killed at the age of 21 by a sheriff in Fort Sumner, New Mexico.
The photo found in Fresno was taken in 1878 and shows Billy the Kid and several gang members of his Lincoln County Regulators playing a game of croquet after a wedding.