Only Known Authenticated Photograph of Billy the Kid

‘The only known authenticated portrait of the notorious outlaw Billy the Kid has sold for $2.3m (£1.4m) at auction in Denver, in the US state of Colorado. The tintype - an early form of photo using metal plates - is believed to have been taken in 1879 or 1880 in Fort Sumner, New Mexico.

‘It depicts the gunfighter in rumpled clothes and a hat, gazing at the camera and holding a Winchester rifle. Billy the Kid gave the image to a friend, Dan Dendrick, in whose family it has remained ever since.

‘The outlaw was reputedly born in New York but moved to Colorado with his mother and brothers when his father died. He fell into a career of thievery and lawlessness and was hunted across the southern US states and northern Mexico. He is widely thought to have killed 21 people, although some sources put the figure as high as 27.

‘Billy the Kid was captured and sentenced to hang for the 1878 murder of a county sheriff. He then escaped, only to be hunted down and killed by Sheriff Patrick Floyd Garrett on 14 July 1881.’



Thank you to John Pollock

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7 comments to Only Known Authenticated Photograph of Billy the Kid

  • Earl Barber

    Though the only ‘authenticated’ photo of ‘Billy the Kid’, it led many to believe for over a century that ‘Billy’ was a ‘lefty’.

    Someone noted that the side of the rifle shown in the picture would mean that it was either made backwards (none were known to have been made that way), or, more realistically he was actually a ‘righty’.

    The concensus conclusion of historians being the image was made from a ‘flipped’ negative.

  • Laurence Wyche

    As an Englishman, I find America’s fascination with worthless psychotic murderers hard to understand.

  • Jack Colby

    Laurence, what about Jack the Ripper?

  • charles

    Forget Jack the Ripper. What about your Prince Philip who said “In the event that I am reincarnated, I would like to return as a deadly virus, in order to contribute something to solve overpopulation.” That makes Jack seem almost tame. for reference.

  • Devlicious

    He’s right though… overpopulation is a big problem that everyone seems to ignore….

  • Michael

    Earl: The “historians” appear to be full of it. Tintype = no negative = image always appears flipped relative to reality.

  • Red Bunny

    There’s a lot more to the Billy the Kid story than what was described. New evidence suggests that he may not have killed as many men as they say he did. And he wasn’t exactly some random theif. His actions were motivated and there was even talk of pardoning him as recently as a few years ago by the Governor of New Mexico. Those few short paragraphs describing him don’t quite do his story justice. The true story is fascinating, and in the Old West, it was often hard to tell who were the “good guys” and who were the “bad guys”. That goes for other Old West legends such as Doc Holiday, and the Earp brothers, among others. Myth and history are two seperate things and it is wise to understand this.

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