A Billy the Kid photo purchased for $2 at a junk shop in 2010 could fetch as much as $5 million and will be featured in a National Geographic Channel special.
The picture of the outlaw – real name William Henry McCarty, Jr. – playing croquet with his gang in the summer of 1878 was bought by collector Randy Guijarro in Fresno, California, according to Kagin's, the company negotiating the photograph's sale.
"I love handling great treasure finds," Donald Kagin, president of Kagin's, Inc., which specializes in Western Americana and rare coins, said on the company's website
. "This iconic, lively and fun artifact is history in your hand – a snapshot of the lifestyle of one of the most notorious figures of the Wild West."
Kagin said his firm had authenticated the photo showing the outlaw with several of his Lincoln County Regulators gang members.
He said the photo will be the topic of a two-hour documentary On National Geographic on Sunday night.
The $5 million possible sale price was proffered by Kagin's.
"When we first saw the photograph, we were understandably skeptical – an original Billy the Kid photo is the Holy Grail of Western Americana," Kagin's numismatist, David McCarthy, told the New York Post
"We had to be sure 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," said McCarty.
The legend of Billy the Kid has captured the imagination of the public for more than 100 years, said CBS News
. Lawman Pat Garrett killed the outlaw on July 14, 1881, after he broke out of a jail in Lincoln County, New Mexico.
That breakout led to a famous gunfight that left to two of Garrett's deputies dead.
Billy the Kid became an Old West folk hero, accused of killing 21 people, one for each year of his life, said CBS News. The New Mexico Tourism Department, though, said the real number was closer to nine.
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