A man and his wife were out shopping at random junk stores in California five years ago when they came across a couple of boxes of old photographs and started going through them. They found three that they thought were pretty cool, gave the cashier $2 for them, and went on their way without having the slightest idea of what they had just purchased. But after years of sitting on the photo, they finally received the best news of their lives when they learned the picture was actually worth a whopping $5 million because of who was in it.
Back in 2010, Randy and Linda Guijarro were cruising through junk stores in the Fresno area when they saw two boxes of old photographs at an antique store in the Tower District, reports the San Francisco Gate. They thumbed through the photos, some of which were really old and others not so much, and finally decided on three of them that they liked for no particular reason.
For less than the cost of a gallon of gas, the couple paid for the photos and went on their merry way, not realizing their $2 buy would end up leading to their retirement. Five years after their purchase, the couple was able to positively confirm the photo they bought was actually the rarest photograph in the world – it showed William H. Bonney, AKA “Billy the Kid,” playing croquet with his fellow Regulators.
“It’s the holy grail of not just western photography. It’s the holy grail of photography,” said Jeff Aiello, executive director of a new Billy the Kid documentary. “It is the rarest photograph in the world and it was found in a Fresno junk shop.”
Isn’t that incredible? Who would have ever thought a photo like that would turn up in a junk shop? But even more incredible is its value, which is based upon the sale of the only other known photograph of the infamous outlaw. The other picture sold at auction for $2.3 million, which means the expected value of the Guijarro’s photograph is around $5 million, according to Kagins Incorporated, who authenticated it.
The photo is believed to have been taken in New Mexico in 1878, when Billie the Kid would have been just 17 years old. In it, Kid is seen with a group of ranch owners and cowboys who were deputized during the Lincoln County War. Kid didn’t live much longer after the photo was taken, as just three years later, Sheriff Pat Garrett shot him dead in Fort Sumner, New Mexico.