Thursday, 2 June 2016

Billy the Kid photo, bought for $2 - insured for $ 6m

Billy the Kid, the Wild West gunslinger, is usually associated with a Colt single-action.44 not the genteel English elegance of a varnished oak croquet mallet. However an extremely rare photograph of the legendary outlaw leaning on a croquet mallet has emerged – only the second known photo of The Kid, whose real name is Henry McCarty, thought to exist.

The photo shows McCarty playing croquet with his gang of Lincoln County Regulators in late summer 1878. It was bought by collector Randy Guijarro for US$2 from a California junk shop in 2010 and will now be sold by Kagin’s auctioneers for an estimated US$6.5 million.
The photo was authenticated by Kagin’s, which identified Billy the Kid along with several members of the Regulators, as well as friends and family. It was taken after a wedding in the summer of 1878, just a month after the gang took part in the brutal Lincoln County war.

The only other known photograph of McCarty was sold for US$2.8 million in June 2011. Florida billionaire William Koch placed the winning bid in person at Brian Lebel’s annual Old West Auction in Denver, Colo. The metallic photo, taken outside a Fort Sumner, N.M., saloon in late 1879 or early 1880, depicts the outlaw gripping the upright barrel of a Winchester carbine, with a Colt .45 pistol strapped to his hip.

Lincoln County Sheriff Pat Garrett and his posse captured the outlaw in December 1880. McCarty was tried for murder and sentenced to death, but he escaped on April 28, 1881 after killing two deputies. Garrett tracked down McCarty and shot him dead on July 14, 1881, in Fort Sumner, New Mexico Territory. McCarty was 21.
Henry McCarty (September 17, 1859 – July 14, 1881), better known under the pseudonyms of Billy the Kid and William H. Bonney, was a 19th-century gunman who participated in the Lincoln County War and became a frontier outlaw in the American Old West. According to legend, he killed twenty-one men,but it is now generally believed that he killed eight, with the first on August 17, 1877.

McCarty was relatively unknown during most of his lifetime, but was catapulted into legend in 1881 when New Mexico's governor Lew Wallace placed a price on his head. In addition, the Las Vegas Gazette and the New York Sun carried stories about his exploits.