Man Buys Photo For $2 At Garage Sale, Realizes It’s Worth Millions After Spotting Small Detail

Note: we are republishing this story which originally made the news in October 2015.

In a remarkable turn of events, a collector in Fresno, California struck gold by nabbing a vintage photograph for a mere two bucks – a seemingly worthless piece turned into a potential goldmine. The twist? The photo features none other than the notorious outlaw Billy the Kid, nonchalantly engaged in a game of croquet.

The value of this historic image? A jaw-dropping estimated $5 million.

Kagin’s Inc., a renowned numismatics firm, made headlines by officially authenticating the photo earlier this month. The 4-inch-by-5-inch tintype captures Billy the Kid during the summer of 1878, potentially at a wedding, alongside members of his notorious gang, The Regulators.

David McCarthy, Kagin’s senior numismatist, shed light on the rigorous scrutiny that lasted over a year before the firm confirmed the photo’s authenticity. McCarthy emphasized the need for thorough verification, stating that a mere resemblance wouldn’t cut it in a case like this. A team of experts had to be assembled to scrutinize every detail, ensuring that nothing was amiss.


“When we first saw the photograph, we were understandably skeptical — an original Billy the Kid photo is the Holy Grail of Western Americana,” McCarthy revealed. “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.”

This revelation places the newfound image alongside the only other known photo of Billy the Kid, taken in 1880 in Fort Sumner, New Mexico. That 2-inch-by-3-inch tintype fetched an impressive $2.3 million in 2010, according to Kagin’s.

Billy the Kid, also known as Henry McCarty or William H. Bonney, has solidified his place in American folklore as a renowned thief and gunfighter. His daring escape from prison after killing two guards only added to his legendary status. While legend attributes 21 killings to him, corresponding to each year of his life, historical records suggest a more accurate count of nine.

According to the New Mexico Tourism Department, Billy the Kid was solely responsible for four deaths, including the two guards, while he assisted in dispatching five others. His legendary run came to an end when Sheriff Pat Garrett tracked him down and delivered justice at Fort Sumner in 1881.

The unveiling of this recently authenticated photo adds a valuable and captivating chapter to the story of one of the Wild West’s most iconic figures, turning an ordinary antique shop discovery into an invaluable piece of American history.

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