A man finds a photo of Billy the Kid in a box of junk

Randy Guijarro from Fresno, California loves to collect things and he can often be found searching through antique stores and flea markets for old coins and other lost treasures. One day back in 2010, he stopped at Fulton’s Folly Antiques on his way home from work and walked out with some tintype photos dating back to the late 1800s. What he didn’t know at the time was that one of those photos had captured an image so rare that it was worth a small fortune.

When Randy got home he put the tintypes away and it wasn't until a few weeks later that he had time to take a closer look at them. When he came across a picture of a group of people playing croquet, he was impressed by the composition. But when he put it under a microscope he could hardly believe his eyes. Being familiar with the famous people of that era, Randy was quite sure that he was looking at a picture of Henry McCarty — or, as he is more famously known, Billy the Kid!

But Randy couldn’t be sure and needed to find an expert to confirm his suspicion. This was not an easy task and he had to deal with a some scam artists before finding a few genuine historians who specialized in the life and times of Billy the Kid. One of them was David McCarthy, who went to great lengths to make sure the authentication was legitimate. “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 ensure that nothing was out of place,” McCarthy said.

Four years passed from the day Randy Guijarro had bought the photo until it was finally authenticated by experts. David McCarthy was involved in that process for over a year and explained it like this, "When we first saw the photograph, we were understandably sceptical. An original Billy the Kid photo is the holy grail of Western Americana. 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."

It was a major historical find and Randy was naturally overjoyed at his luck. Photos of Billy the Kid are rare enough, but this one also contained something very special: Billy and Pat Garrett playing a game of croquet together at a wedding party! For those of you who aren’t familiar with the history, Pat Garrett is the sheriff who is believed to have finally killed Billy the Kid in 1881, which makes the irony almost too much to bear. But the experts have done their homework and are quite sure that the photo is the real deal and that makes it worth a lot of money — around $4.25 million, in fact. This is the picture (a close up of Billy and Pat Garrett is seen above):

Randy is currently negotiating with some collectors and said, “We have a couple of people who are interested right now.”

Wikimedia

If things work out, it looks like Randy is soon to be a very rich man and all because of a quick stop at an antique store and a bit of rummaging in what the store owner described as a “box of junk.” Sometimes it pays to take a closer look!

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