A Man Buys a Photo for $2 and Finds Out It’s Worth Millions

A Man Buys a Photo for $2 and Finds Out It’s Worth Millions

They say, whoever “they” are, that a picture
is worth a thousand words. Well, sometimes words aren’t the only currency to measure
its value. Some pictures cost millions of dollars, and a photo of Billy the Kid found
in a thrift store is a good example of that. First off, for those of you wondering who
Billy the Kid is and why someone would be willing to pay millions for his picture: he
was a legend of the Wild West. William Henry McCarty (that was his real name) was born
in 1859 in New York. He only lived for 21 years, but even in that short time, this young
man of Irish origin managed to become one of the most famous outlaws of his era. Interestingly,
he never robbed banks, trains, or stagecoaches, but was rustling cattle and took part in gunfights.
Even when he was captured, he managed to design a daring jailbreak. All this makes him quite
an interesting figure in the eyes of Wild West fans. And, pictures of him are so rare,
those fans are ready to pay millions for them. Now, when I say rare, I mean there was just
one officially confirmed picture of him by 2011. I’ll tell you more about that later.
Now let’s focus on the more recent find. Back in 2010, a collector from Fremont, California,
went shopping for antiques at a junk shop with his wife in Fresno, CA. Among the odds
and ends and old furniture, they found two cardboard boxes with photographs. In there
was a 4×5 tintype (that’s a photograph on a thin sheet of metal) that the collector
liked. He bought the picture and two other photographs for $2. The picture showed a group
of men playing croquet. At the time he purchased it, the lucky collector had no idea it was
a rare image of Billy the Kid himself from 1878. But as he gave the picture a closer
look, he realized he’d found a real gem! It wasn’t a random group of cowboys, but
the legendary outlaw with his gang, the Regulators. However, when it comes to historical pictures,
you can’t just claim that what you found is the real thing and worth millions of dollars.
It took years to confirm the image was, indeed, original. One of the producers of National
Geographic was dedicated to help him in his quest for the truth. To prove that the image
wasn’t a fake, they had to travel as far as New Mexico, to the location you can see
in the picture, and find the now-abandoned building in the back. They found the exact
rock piers and the old lumber underneath. When the picture was brought for official
authentication to Kagin’s, a firm specializing in Western Americana and Rare Coins, they
were skeptical about it at first. It’s no surprise, really, since pictures of Billy
the Kid are so rare, quite a lot of people who know the value try to make money by making
look-alikes. But the company experts knew this one was real because they managed to
identify Billy, as well as other people in the picture, as members of the Regulators
gang using facial recognition software. One of them was Sallie Chisum. She mentioned Billy
the Kid in her personal journals, and one record was of a wedding between Charlie Bowdre,
who’s sitting on the horse in the photo, and Manuella Bowdre. It took place in the
summer of 1878, a month after the gang participated in the Lincoln County conflict. Once the experts
had no doubt the tintype was real, the owner of Kagin’s described the picture as “perhaps
the single most compelling piece of Western Americana that we have ever seen” because
of its historical importance. The executive director of the National Geographic documentary
about the picture called it the holy grail, not only of the Wild West, but photography
in general, and “the rarest photograph in the world”. So now I guess it makes perfect
sense why this $2 junk shop find has been estimated to be worth $5 million. Another officially confirmed photo of Billy
the Kid sold at Auction for $2.3 million in 2011. Collectors and Wild West fans arrived
in Denver, ready to fight for the gem. It was expected to go for $400,000, but obviously,
the buyer gave more than 5 times as much for it, and it became one of the most expensive
old West memorabilia ever sold. That tintype was also taken outside a saloon in Fort Sumner,
New Mexico, around 1880. Billy was posing with a Winchester carbine and a Colt 45 pistol
at his hip. If you expected a twisted and exciting story about how this one got to the
auction house, I might disappoint you. This time, it wasn’t found at a junk shop for
close to nothing but sold by the descendants of Dan Dedrick. He’d received the picture
directly from his partner in cattle rustling crime, Billy the Kid himself. A businessman
from Florida purchased it out of his love for the Old West as an important part of American
history. He said he would let some small museums exhibit the picture first, and then keep it
for his own pleasure. The third picture of Billy the Kid that has
become famous worldwide hasn’t been auctioned yet. But if it is, it’ll be worth even more
than $5 million! What makes this picture unique is that it supposedly shows both Billy the
Kid and Sheriff Pat Garrett, who ended the famous outlaw’s life at the age of 21. Ironically,
Billy and Pat used to be good friends, and they’d spent time together in New Mexico.
Then, Garrett was appointed Lincoln County Sheriff in November 1880, and that turned
their friendship into a feud. Garrett offered his ex-friend a deal: Billy was supposed to
leave New Mexico and take his crimes elsewhere, and Garrett wouldn’t chase him. But if he
had stayed in the area, the sheriff promised to arrest him. The Kid chose to stay and was
arrested by his once good friend. And even though he escaped from jail, he was found
later in Fort Sumner. Seeing the two of them in the picture together (the Kid is supposedly
the guy with the prominent Adam’s apple, and Garrett is the one on the far right wearing
a dark hat) –it’s amazing. Just as amazing is the fact that the picture
was sold at a flea market in Asheville for $10 in 2011. The new owner put it in the North
Carolina home he rented out on Airbnb. It was hanging there for years as a mere wall
decoration until 2015, when the owner watched the documentary about the new Billy the Kid
picture playing croquet. The lawyer who purchased the photo recognized the familiar features.
He gave the tintype a second look and became convinced it was Billy himself with a group
of four Wild West cowboys. Because of his interest in history, he decided to investigate
the matter to find out if the picture was indeed a 137-year-old photograph of the legend.
He asked a retired professor and tintype expert for help. He confirmed the picture was taken
between 1875 and 1880 judging by how the the plate, the clothing and the firearm look.
A forensics expert who studied the picture using facial recognition software confirmed
it must have been Garrett and the Kid. The date written on the picture – August 2,
1880 – was also a clue. A handwriting expert from Texas compared it with 10 documents written
by Sheriff Garrett and said it was a match! You can only imagine how excited the man who
bought the picture was when he found out it was the real deal! He said in an interview
that if he’d known about its true importance earlier, he would have charged more for the
room where it was hanging on the wall. Understandably, he took the image down and put it in a safe
deposit box. Experts are positive if he decides to sell it at auction he could get way more
than $5 million for this gem! However, the lucky owner says as of now, he doesn’t want
to find out. He’s just happy to have that unique piece of history in his possession.
Do you like shopping for antiques and vintage stuff? Let me know down in the comments! If
you learned something new today, then give this video a like and share it with a friend.
But – hey! – don’t go anywhere just yet! We have over 2,000 cool videos for you
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Stay on the Bright Side of life!

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  1. Haha thx for the Secret BRIGHT SIDE. 3:21 look at the pic of the person and it says JOHN DOE and do you do KNOW who JOHN DOE is well JOHN DOE is a roblox HACKER a really bad one that JOHN DOE can hack roblox or any game in 2 DAYS.Thx for reminding me that I can be hacked thx

  2. Kid: Give me all your cattle.
    Man: I tell you what sit here and I'll take your picture. It's worth more than my cattle.
    Kid: okay.

  3. If I, sorry I mean WHEN I win millions of dollars I’m going to build a housing estate for the homeless. I’m going to incorporate part payment come from each persons individual skills or talents in the creation of this housing estate or its maintenance and continuance.
    That’s my dream!

  4. I saw the notification and clicked as fast as Usain Bolt………I thought I'm the first viewer…….but it was uploaded an month ago😑😐

  5. Rick from Pawn Stars: Lemme call a friend of mine who’s an Old West enthusiast from the late 1800’s. He’ll be able to lowball the price

  6. First time I saw this photograph they said it was at a wedding the Billy the Kid had attended and when you compare it with the certified photo of Billy the Kid I think it might just be the same guy as well

  7. Wanna be a millionaire in 3 steps?
    1. Do the same as 'Billy The Kid'.
    2.Take a selfie.
    3. Sell it.
    and thank me later.

  8. Random person:can i have that pic
    Me:sure waif here
    Random person:ok
    Me:*run back home then screen shot*
    Me:Im back it worth a million
    Random person:ok

  9. I'm born and raised in New Mexico. Lincoln county only being about 3 hours away from where I was raised. let me tell you its still the wild wild west lol. people open carry pistols in holsters as normal as if you were wearing something else within the ordinary. forgetting your pistol is like forgetting your cellphone when you leave the house lol.

  10. I have a couple polaroids of Billy the Regular Guy. They're just as rare, but they're not worth quite as much.
    And how can anyone call something "The rarest in the world" when I have things equally as rare? The picture my camera took when I dropped it yesterday is the only one in existence. Its just as rare as this pic of Billy the Kid. Its for sale.

  11. Billy the Kid scares me. He looked like a genuine walker. And I also heard from other quarters that this was not Billy the Kid in the pic….

  12. A father before he died said to his son: “this is a watch your grandfather gave and this is more than 200 years old, but before I give it to you go to the watch shop on the first street, and tell him I want to sell it, and see how much it is”. He went and then came back to his father, and said, "the watchmaker paid 5 dollars because it's old”. He said to him : “go to the coffee shop”. He went and then came back, and said: “He paid $5 father”. “Go to the museum and show that watch”. He went then came back, and said to his father “They offered me a million dollars for this piece”. The father said: “I wanted to let you know that the right place values your value in a way right, don't put yourself in the wrong place and get angry if you don't. Who knows your value is who appreciates you, don't stay in a place that doesn't suit you".

    Know your worth.

  13. I ounce gave away a framed picture of myself. The value was less than $15 dollars for the crystal frame, however later the woman traded it to another on the condition she could keep the photo. Unfortunately my image has never been worth more than a cup of coffee.

  14. I have a reproduction of the Kid’s wanted poster in my house surrounded by jail keys, old handcuffs, and old badges. It’s my favorite room in my house.

  15. It was bought in a boutique store in Fresno, CA's tower district, that had some thrift clothing, and racks of old photos.

  16. 07:20 i have so many questions.

    where do you get the animated graphics?
    why does the scientist scribble under the board?
    why is the scientist at the end of the desk look into the microscope and rub the table?

  17. The second picture that you showed incompletely is reproduced in the book Pictorial History of the Wild West by James D. Horan and Paul Sann © 1954 on page 57.

  18. I have a photo of my Great Grandfather on tintype. He was born in 1871 and died in 1925. Im not sure of the year of the photo. My aunt born in 1898 gave it to me.

  19. 5 million dolars for an outlawz picture,, wow,, someday someone will pay 10 million dollars for Osama bin laden picture,, wow,, em so excited

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