Why did someone pay $2 million for this old photograph?
Turns out that the credit card-sized ferrotype is the only surviving authenticated portrait of Billy the Kid—the notorious Wild West outlaw and beloved folk hero. The ferrotype is an early form of photo using sheets of iron metal.
Billionaire William Koch, founder of Oxbow Carbon and a well-known art and antiques collector, paid a whopping $2.3 million for the picture, which was auctioned off at Brian Lebel’s 22nd Annual Old West Show & Auction in Denver, Colorado last night. A 15 percent fee was added to the bidding price, making the selling price more than $2.6 million.
The portrait was believed to be taken in late 1879 or early 1880 in New Mexico. The Kid (a.k.a. William Henry McCarty, Henry Antrim and William H. Bonney) reportedly paid 25 cents to have the photo taken. According to legend, the 19th-century American frontier gunslinger killed 21 men, but many historians believe the number was closer to nine. He died in 1881 at the hands of Lincoln County Sheriff Pat Garrett when he was only 22. Last December, outgoing New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson declined to grant a posthumous pardon to the infamous outlaw.
I don’t dig why uber wealthy people buy and collect antiques. I guess they never got hand-me downs growing up.
[Photo found via BuzzFeed]