Billy the child plays croquet (detail), 1878. Photo: Kagin"s.

When Randy Guijarro choose up one old photograph of a game of croquet in ~ a Fresno junk shop for $2, he didn’t understand that that was in reality purchasing a priceless piece of American history. That is only the second confirmed photograph of Billy the Kid, one iconic figure of the Wild West.

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The photograph, which reflects Billy the Kid and his posse the Regulators enjoy it a post-wedding video game of croquet in 1878, to be authenticated by Kagin’s, a mountain Francisco-based agency that offers expertise in western Americana and also rare coins.

Billy the Kid’s only other verified photo, a tintype portrait, was purchased in 2011 at Brian Lebel’s annual Old West Auction in Denver for $2.3 million by billionaire invoice Koch, one avid collector of art of the American West (and emotionally wine lover). The pre-sale estimate had topped out at just $400,000. Follow to Kagin’s website, the tintype that Billy the child playing croquet has been appraised and insured because that $5,000,000.


Billy the Kidd.Photo: Brian Lebel Auctions.

Born Henry McCarty in brand-new York city, Billy the son headed west and also turned to a life of crime, becoming a frontier outlaw. He owes his legendary status in part to the new Mexico governor, who put a price ~ above his head. Billy the Kid died in a gunfight in 1881 at simply 21.

“An original Billy the Kid picture is the divine grail of west Americana,” Kagin’s David McCarthy told the Guardian. “We had actually to be particular that we might answer and also verify where, when, how and also why this photograph was taken. Basic resemblance is not sufficient in a situation like this.”

Kagin’s spent a year researching the image, tracking under the place where it to be shot, locating the structures of the building behind Billy the Kid and also his friend in Chaves County, brand-new Mexico.


Billy the kid plays croquet, 1878.Photo: Kagin’s.

If croquet seems an uncharacteristically genteel pursuit for such a well known outlaw, you’d it is in surprised to discover that the sport had a downright unsavory reputation ago in the day. Follow to James Charlton and also William Thompson’s Croquet: The complete Guide come History, Strategy, Rules, and also Records, “it had actually become linked with gambling, drinking and philandering to together an level that it to be banned in Boston by one Reverend Skinner.”

Despite the excitement bordering the photo’s discovery, it’s success in ~ auction is far from guaranteed. Previously this year, a photograph thought come contain the third extant photo of Vincent van Gogh failure to offer at auction.

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