Rare Billy the Kid photograph sold for $2.3 million

DENVER Sun Jun 26, 2011 10:47am EDT

Henry McCarty, a.k.a. Billy the Kid, is pictured in this undated photograph obtained by Reuters on December 16, 2010. REUTERS/Library of Congress/Handout

Henry McCarty, a.k.a. Billy the Kid, is pictured in this undated photograph obtained by Reuters on December 16, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Library of Congress/Handout

Related Topics

DENVER (Reuters) - The only authenticated photograph of infamous Wild West gunslinger Billy the Kid was auctioned off to Florida billionaire William Koch for an $2.3 million on Saturday night.

Koch, an energy company executive and well-known collector of art and American West artifacts, placed the winning bid in person before stunned onlookers at Brian Lebel's annual Old West Auction in Denver.

Lebel said at an auction preview that he expected the tintype image to sell for between $300,000 and $400,000.

Koch told Reuters after the auction that he plans to allow some small museums to display the piece, and after that he will "just enjoy" the iconic piece.

"I love the old West," he said. "This is a part of American history."

The metallic photo, taken outside a Fort Sumner, New Mexico, 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.

The photograph was owned by the descendants of Dan Dedrick, who was given the photo by his cattle rustling partner, Billy the Kid himself.

Born Henry McCarty, but known in New Mexico as William Bonney, the Kid was shot dead at age 22 by lawman Pat Garrett in 1881, months after a jailbreak in which Bonney reportedly killed two deputies.

In the 130 years since his death, Billy the Kid has been depicted, with varying degrees of accuracy, in scores of popular culture movies and books.

Koch's winning bid was actually $2 million, but a $300,000 "buyer's premium" was tacked on, bringing the total selling price to $2.3 million, an auction spokeswoman said.

Brian Lebel said he was pleased that the photo wasn't sold to an overseas buyer.

"I'm happy that it will stay in this country and will be shared with the public," he said.

Koch is one of the sons of Fred C. Koch, founder of Wichita, Kansas-based energy conglomerate Koch Industries, one of the largest private companies in the United States.

(Editing by Steve Gorman and Ellen Wulfhorst)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (6)
Yephora wrote:
Billy the Kid looks like a lumpy, misshapen misfit. A real loser for sure.

Jun 26, 2011 11:13am EDT  --  Report as abuse
hillarybgawn wrote:
Billy the Koch disdains the poor, actively seeks to undermine the middle class and spends his millions on a trifle… a metal imagof a murderer and a thief..which he loves.

He is rubbing your nose in it.

Jun 26, 2011 11:48am EDT  --  Report as abuse
TexanForever wrote:
Yephora wrote:
Billy the Kid looks like a lumpy, misshapen misfit. A real loser for sure.

Would love to hear you say that to his face…LOL

Jun 26, 2011 5:11pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.