Never-Before-Seen Photo Of Billy The Kid Could Be Worth $5 Million

Published October 17, 2015
Updated November 8, 2023

This newly authenticated photograph of Wild West outlaw Billy the Kid, bought for $2 at an antique shop, could be worth around $5 million.

Billy The Kid Photo

A detail of Billy the Kid (left) in the original tintype.

It’s not every day you’re told you can make a profit of approximately $5 million from a purchase in a junk shop. But this is just what happened to collector Randy Guijarro.

This newly discovered image of Henry McCarty, better known as Billy the Kid, is currently making its rounds on the internet, becoming just the second authenticated photo of the Wild West outlaw and possibly the most valuable.

The rare Billy the Kid photo was purchased by Guijarro for only $2 at an antique shop in Fresno, California in 2010. He admitted to CNN affiliate KSEE in August that the photo was a last-minute purchase: “I had just a couple of bucks left, and I found three photographs I liked, and of the three, the oldest tintype, I actually kind of chucked it back in the box.” But he said something told him to keep it, and that he did.

The tintype reveals Billy the Kid enjoying a game of croquet with members of his gang, The Regulators, in Lincoln County, New Mexico.

A numismatics firm, Kagin’s Inc., announced it had authenticated the photo earlier this month. Senior numismatist, David McCarthy, after carefully inspecting the photo for a year, determined that it was indeed genuine.

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

“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.

“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.”

Kagin’s owner Donald Kagin added: “The historical importance of a photograph of Billy the Kid alongside known members of his gang and prominent Lincoln County citizens is incalculable. This is perhaps the single most compelling piece of Western Americana that we have ever seen.”

The photograph will be the subject of a two-hour documentary airing on Sunday, October 18th on the National Geographic Channel.

John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.
Savannah Cox
Savannah Cox holds a Master's in International Affairs from The New School as well as a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and now serves as an Assistant Professor at the University of Sheffield. Her work as a writer has also appeared on DNAinfo.