A rare photo of 19th century notorious outlaw Billy the Kid has emerged on the market with a $1 million price-tag.
The previously unseen black and white image from 1877 shows the outlaw playing cards with his gang – it is only the second confirmed image of the wanted man.
In the photo, Billy the Kid, can be seen sitting around a table with three members of his gang – Richard Brewer, Fred Waite and Henry Brown – all of whom were wanted men.
The then-21-year-old is seen dressed in a white shirt, dark waistcoat and top hat.
The black and white wet collodion tin type image is thought to dates back to around 1877 and is only the second confirmed image of the notorious American outlaw
All four men are depicted carefully considering their hand. On the table in front of them is a glass bottle of liqueur which appears to have been largely consumed.
At the time Billy the Kid, whose real name was William H. Bonney, was a wanted man having murdered a blacksmith in Arizona.
He is believed to have gone on to kill another seven men during the Lincoln County War in 1878. One of those was the Lincoln County Sheriff William Brady.
Billy the Kid was eventually caught by Sheriff Pat Garrett who shot him in the dark.
The photo has been kept in the same family for over a century, after it was given to the vendor’s grandfather by the widow of a Billy Wilson, a gang member and friend of Billy the Kid
The photo now for sale has never been made public before and has been kept in the same family for over a century.
It was originally given to the vendor’s grandfather by the widow of David Anderson, who was better known as Billy Wilson.
Wilson was a member of the infamous gang having befriended Billy the Kid when riding alongside him during the Lincoln County War.
The photograph was given to him for safe keeping prior to the Kid’s death.
In a letter detailing the photograph’s journey into his family, vendor, Tomas R. Anderson II said: ‘When my grandfather and family went to pay their respects to the widow of David Anderson at his 1918 funeral, she gifted him, with among other items, a small leather family photograph album.
‘She explained to my grandfather’s family about the history of the photograph and how Billy had gifted the photo to her husband.’
The photo has remained in his family, but Mr Anderson from Arizona, has decided the time is right to sell it.
A letter from the vendor details the story of how the photograph got into his family’s possession
It has been verified by the George Eastman Museum in Texas which is the world’s oldest museum dedicated to photography and named after the founder of Kodak.
Mark Osterman, a process historian at the museum, said the image is consistent with it being a wet collodion tintype photograph that were made between 1870 and 1890.
The picture is to go under the hammer with Sofe Design Auctions of Richardson, near Dallas, Texas.
A spokesman for Sofe Design said: “This is a historically important, incredibly rare and one-of-a-kind.
“It is only the second positively documented and analysed photographic image of Billy the Kid as well as the only known group image to include him.
“It also possesses meticulous and irrefutable Anderson family provenance dating back three generations.
“It has never been seen before and nor has it been publicly offered for sale.”
The picture is to go under the hammer with Sofe Design Auctions of Richardson, near Dallas, Texas. A spokesman for the auction house said the image was a rare one-of-a-kind photograph
The photograph, which will be up for auction on Friday, comes in a cream leather wallet
The photograph remains in fantastic original condition and comes in a cream leather frame.
Of his fellow card players in the picture Brewer was shot dead in the Lincoln County War while Waite and Brown were long-time cowboys.
Together, and along with a number of other outlaws, they became known as the ‘Billy the Kid Gang’.
The 1988 movie Young Guns, which starred Emilio Estevez as Billy the Kid as well as Charlie Sheen and Kiefer Sutherland, told the story of the fugitive’s rise in notoriety.
It’s 1990 sequel, Young Guns II, featured his arrest, jail break out and death at the hands of Garrett.
The auction takes place on Friday.
This 130-year-old tintype photograph on the left was, till the emergence of the second photo (right) the only authenticated image of the notorious American outlaw Billy the Kid