The famous tinplate portrait of Billy the Kid recently got sold in an auction in Denver, fetching $2.3 million
The only known authentic portrait of the infamous outlaw, Billy the Kid, recently got sold in an auction, in Denver. The portrait was sold for $2.3 million, to a private collector. Billy the Kid original portrait got sold for six times the estimate, making it the most expensive piece ever sold at Brian Lebel’ Annual Old West Show & Auction, as reported by auction spokesperson, Melissa McCracken.
Billy the Kid’s portrait is on tintype, which is an early form of photo using metal plates. The portrait was believed to be taken in 1879 or 1880 in Fort Summer, New Mexico. It is also believed that the portrait was taken just a year or two before Billy the Kid was killed by Sheriff Patrick Floyd.
The tintype image of Billy the Kid shows a gunslinger with a Winchester rifle in his right hand and a Colt revolver holstered on his left side. In the portrait Billy the Kid is wearing rumpled clothes and a hat, and looking straight into the camera. When little was known about tintype photos, it was thought that Billy the Kid was a lefty. However, later it was discovered that in tintype photos, the image is reversed and he was not a lefty, after all. This misconception was so wide-spread thatplayed the character of Billy the Kid in the 1958 movie titled ‘The Left Handed Gun’.
The tintype portrait of Billy the Kid is the only surviving image of the outlaw, and that is the reason why it has commanded such a high auction price. The portrait was sold off to a private collector, William Kotch, at the 22nd Annual Old West Show & Auction on Saturday.
It is reported that this rare and only image of Billy the Kid was given by the outlaw himself to a friend called Dan Dendrick. The portrait then remained in Dendrick’s family until the time it was auctioned.
Billy the Kid, also known as William Henry McCarty, Henry Antrim and William H. Bonney was born on November 23rd in 1859, in New York. After the death of his father, he moved with the rest of his family to Colorado. There he took up delinquent lifestyle drifting deep into thievery and lawlessness. He was hunted across the southern U.S. and northern Mexico. Billy the Kid is thought to have killed at least 21 people, but some figures indicate that the actual count may have been 27.
He was hunted down and killed by Sheriff Patrick Floyd Garrett on the July, 14th in 1881.