The tintype has been dated to 1878

By Alex Heigl
Updated October 13, 2015 04:15 PM
Credit: Courtesy Kagin s, Inc.

Who knew Billy the Kid was into lawn sports?

The famous outlaw (née William H. Bonney) is depicted enjoying a game of croquet with the rest of his gang, the Lincoln County Regulators, in the summer of 1878 in a new tintype going to auction via Kagin’s.

But Mr. the Kid’s predilection for an innocuous form of short-range yard-golf isn’t the best part of this story. No, that would be the fact that the photo was purchased for $2 as part of a lot at a Fresno, California, junk shop, by collector Randy Guijarro in 2010. Based on the sale of the only other known picture of Bonney – which fetched $2.3 million in 2010 – Kagin’s expects Guijarro’s picture to fetch around $5 million when it goes to auction.

“When we first saw the photograph, we were understandably skeptical – an original Billy the Kid photo is the Holy Grail of Western Americana,” Kagin’s numismatist (one who studies currency) David McCarthy told The New York Post.

“We had to be sure we could answer and verify where, when, how and why this photograph was taken. Simple resemblance is not enough in a case like this – a team of experts had to be assembled to address each and every detail in the photo to insure that nothing was out of place.”

And it turns out nothing was – aside from the violent outlaw playing croquet, of course.