This Guy Purchased A Photo For $2 In A Thrift Store, Then He Was Shocked To Discover Its True Value
An Unexpected Discovery
Sometimes you just have to be in the right place at the right time for something amazing to happen. For Randy Guijarro, he never would have imagined his life would be radically changed when he walked into an antique store in California. However, after purchasing a few old photos, he made a discovery that would change his life forever.
Old School Collector
Randy Guijarro was a collector of odds and ends. Old coins, comic books, and sports cards were some of his favorite finds to add to his memorabilia. Anything that was old and had some historical value would usually find its way into his home. When he met his wife it was the picture perfect match, because she loved collecting old photographs.
One day in the summer of 2010, Guijarro spotted an old antique store called Fulton’s Folly Antiques in Fresno, California. Noticing an empty parking space, he decided to check out the place even though it hadn’t been planned for the day.
The Box of Old Photographs
While browsing the store, Guijarro noticed two men who had won an auction and were trying to unload the goods they had found in the storage unit. Most of the stuff really wasn’t all that interesting, but one cardboard box caught his eye. Opening the box, Guijarro found three old 19th century photographs. Knowing his wife would be head-over-heels for them, he offered the men $2 for the photos and they graciously accepted.
Who Could It Be?
After he returned home, Randy decided to examine the photos more closely. One photograph that featured a group of figures playing croquet particularly caught his eye, so he pulled out a microscope to give it a closer look.
Billy the Kid
To Randy’s surprise, one of the men in the photograph had a striking resemblance to Billy the Kid, considered to be an icon in America’s wild west. According to Randy, it was how the man leaned on his croquet stick and carried himself that gave him a clue about who the subject of the photograph actually was.
The Entire Gang
Excited and shocked, Randy called his wife over to look at the picture. As they continued to examine it, they made two additional discoveries—the other men in the picture resembled Charlie Bowdre and Tom O’ Folliard, who were both members of Billy the Kid’s gang, the Regulators.
The History of Billy
According to the history books, Billy the Kid’s real name was Henry McCarty and the boy was nothing but trouble from a young age. Spending quite a bit of time in jail as a teenager, he would eventually escape and go on the run. Around 1877, Billy would kill a blacksmith in Arizona before joining the Regulators and participate in a gang rivalry, known as the Lincoln County War.
Gang Battle Royale
As the gangs continued to battle one another, Billy the Kid’s reputation would continue to grow. He was blamed for every crime the Regulators committed and even participated in the slaying of the Lincoln County Sheriff, William J. Brady, during a shootout.
A Daring Escape
On the run and charged with murder, Billy would eventually get captured in 1880 and sentenced to hanging. However, his escape skills were one of his best assets and he managed to escape capture once again. It would take Sheriff Pat Garrett over a year to track him down to Fort Sumner in July of 1881.
The Fatal Shot
In an epic shootout, Billy the Kid was finally taken down by a fatal shot to the chest by Garrett—but, many people believe his death had been faked. The controversy surrounding his death is something historians continue to investigate and dispute to this day.
Worth a Million
The last authentic picture of Billy the Kid sold for over $2.3 million; therefore, the Guijarros were quite excited by the prospect of their discovery. Could it be possible they found another authentic photograph of the famed outlaw? Setting out to prove their theory, the couple did more research for over a year. However, they found many weren’t willing to believe the photograph was of Billy the Kid—that is until they went to the Witherell’s Old West Show.
Lack of Evidence Troubles
While at the show, the couple tried to broker a deal with the same man who sold the other Billy the Kid photograph. Unfortunately, they were turned away due to lack of evidence. This would be the start of a three-year adventure, working with historians and facial recognition software to determine the authenticity of their photograph.
National Geographic to the Rescue
A turning point in their discovery happened when National Geographic made a documentary about the new evidence surrounding Billy the Kid. The documentary laid out a detailed case as to why the photograph was of the famed outlaw, although many historians still refuted the claims that the photograph was real.
$5 Million in the Bank
However, there is a happy ending for Randy and his wife. Despite the naysayers, a California auction house finally deemed the photograph as authentic and insured the photo for over $5 million. According to Randy, he hopes the discovery will motivate others to look for lost treasures. “I hope this prompts others out there to look into trunks and attics,” he said, “because there are so many lost treasures out there.”