Today the New York Times ran a story about an interesting discovery: a tintype photo circa 1880, purchased by a North Carolina lawyer at a flea market six years ago for a tenner, shows Billy the Kid hanging out with Pat Garrett, who soon after the photo was taken, allegedly shot Billy dead.
The lawyer, Frank Abrams, thought he was buying an interesting photo of five cowboys sitting together. He hung it on the wall of an Airbnb he hosts. In 2015, when he discovered that a similar tintype featuring Billy the Kid was valued at $5 million, he took a closer look at his own and decided he was seeing Pat Garrett.
“Then, Mr. Abrams began to wonder about the man in the back with the prominent Adam’s apple. He eventually showed the tintype to Robert Stahl, a retired professor at Arizona State University and an expert on Billy the Kid.”
Tintype expert William Dunniway placed the photo’s date at between 1875 and 1880, and he and forensics expert Kent Gibson have concluded that the two men in question are indeed Billy and Garrett.
Billy the Kid and Pat Garret were gambling buddies until Garrett became sheriff of Lincoln County, New Mexico, at which point he warned Billy to get out of the area or be pursued by the law.
“Once he became sheriff, Mr. Garrett’s men did indeed capture Billy the Kid. But the outlaw escaped, killing two deputies on the way out of jail. So Mr. Garrett tracked him down again. The story goes that in 1881, Mr. Garrett was in Fort Sumner visiting a friend of the outlaw’s when the Kid arrived unexpectedly; the men couldn’t really see each other, but Mr. Garrett recognized Billy’s voice and quickly shot him dead.”
The tintype has been moved to a safety deposit box and hasn’t yet been formally valued. To read more on this story, please go here.
Very unlikely it actually shows Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. Reporters should do more than simply trust the “experts” hired by the photo’s owner.