An antique photograph showing not only Billy The Kid, but also the man who would gun him down (Pat Garrett) has been discovered.
Historians are convinced that the photo is genuine and is the only in in existence which shows the legendary outlaw and lawman together in the one shot.
The pair, who were once friends, would traverse the badlands of Lincoln County, New Mexico, until Garrett (a barman and customs agent) was appointed an officer of the law. Few pictures exist of either men, but it was when Frank Abrams, a lawyer, was watching a documentary about the icons of the Old West, that he recognised a familiar face.
Abrams had purchased a tintype image (a photograph which has been printed on a thin plate of metal) for $10 at a North Carolina flea market in 2011, an image which had been hanging in his spare room (one which he rented on Airbnb).
The more he studied the picture, and compared it with existing images of both Billy The Kid and Pat Garrett, the more he became convinced that he had accidentally acquired an item of great historical value. The photo of Billy The Kid playing croquet had sold for $2.3m in 2011 at an auction in Denver, Colorado.
The picture, which is dated 2 August 1880, had been verified as an original by Robert Stahl, professor emeritus at Arizona State University. Further services were drafted in by William Dunniway, a tintype expert, who told the New York Times that the photo was probably taken between 1875-80.
“Mr Dunniway worked with Los Angeles forensic video expert Kent Gibson to investigate the picture.
Mr Gibson used facial recognition software to conclude it was most likely a photo of Billy the Kid and Sheriff Garrett.
A handwriting expert in Texas compared a signature from Sheriff Garrett on the photo with 10 documents that included his handwriting.
He found a match, the Associated Press news agency reported. Although experts say the photo may be worth millions of dollars, Mr Abrams says he is no rush to sell it.
“I’ve never put a price on it,” he said in a telephone interview with BBC News. “My interest is in the history,” he added.
The image that experts say shows Billy the Kid playing croquet was bought in 2010 for $2 from a junk shop in Fresno, California.” (Sc. BBC News)
Billy The Kid remains one of the most enigmatic icons of the Wild West, an outlaw with a quick draw who was reported to have killed anywhere between 8-30 people, The Kid was said to have met his end when he was gunned down by Garrett in 1881, however, rumours of an elaborate hoax were spread for decades after this.
The mystery has never truly been solved, but another piece of the puzzle has definitely been unearthed.