When lawyer Frank Abrams paid $10 for an old photo at a flea market in North Carolina, he had no idea that what he had just purchased was probably the only known photograph of one of the Wild West’s most notorious outlaws, Henry McCarty, best known as Billy the Kid, standing a few feet away from the man who would eventually kill him for a $500 reward, Sheriff Pat Garret, the BBC reports.
Abrams first came across the tintype photo in Asheville in 2011. After purchasing it, he hung it on the wall of a room he rented via Airbnb, where it remained for several years until a 2015 TV program made him question if Garrett and the Kid were in his photo.
After consulting with multiple forensic experts as well as Robert Stahl, a retired professor emeritus at Arizona State University and Old West expert, Abrams is convinced that the photo features the two men.
“I told him ‘The biggest thing you could do right now is get the picture out and let people look at it and give you feedback,'” Stahl told the Associated Press. “To me, it’s one of the most intriguing and historically significant of those tintypes of the Old West.”
“One day it may end up at an auction house somewhere. We’ll see what happens,” Abrams said. “Right now, that is not the first thing on my mind. I’ve always been somebody who’s interested in history and background.”
If authentic, the photo will be the only known image of Kid and Garrett together, and will probably be worth millions. A tintype photo of the Kid discovered in 2015 had an estimated worth of $5 million.
“If I had known it was one of the most famous photos in history, I would have charged more for the room,” Abrams told the BBC.