Gun used to kill Billy the Kid 140 years ago is up for auction

The gun used to kill Wild West outlaw Billy the Kid 140 years ago is going under the hammer for a staggering $3million.   

The American fugitive was gunned down by Sheriff Pat Garrett who tracked him down to a remote hideout in Fort Sumner, New Mexico, on July 14, 1881.  

Now, more than a century later, Garrett’s single action revolver is up for auction and is expected to fetch between $2 million and $3 million, Bonhams auction house in Los Angeles said. 

Billy, aged 21, had been on the run for two months following a violent prison break-out during which he killed two of the sheriff’s deputies.

Billy, also known as William Bonney, who committed at least eight murders, finally met his end after Garrett pulled the trigger of the 7.5ins barrel army revolver.

Garrett's single action revolver is up for auction and is expected to fetch between $2 million and $3 million, Bonhams auction house in Los Angeles said

Garrett’s single action revolver is up for auction and is expected to fetch between $2 million and $3 million, Bonhams auction house in Los Angeles said

The notorious American fugitive was gunned down by Sheriff Pat Garrett at his ranch hideout in Fort Sumner, New Mexico, on July 14, 1881. Pictured: The final shoot out between Garrett and Billy the Kid (left)

The notorious American fugitive was gunned down by Sheriff Pat Garrett at his ranch hideout in Fort Sumner, New Mexico, on July 14, 1881.Pictured: The final shoot out between Garrett and Billy the Kid (left) 

William Bonney, also known as Billy the Kid, is believed to be depicted in this undated ferrotype picture, circa 1880, provided by the Lincoln County, N.M. Heritage Trust Archive

William Bonney, also known as Billy the Kid, is believed to be depicted in this undated ferrotype picture, circa 1880, provided by the Lincoln County, N.M.Heritage Trust Archive

Bonhams have described the gun as ‘the most iconic treasure of early Western history’ in the United States. 

The revolver was passed to Garrett’s widow in the early 20th century before ending up in the hands of US collectors Jim and Theresa Earle in 1983 who amassed Western firearms and other artifacts for some 50 years. 

Jim Earle died in 2019, and his family is now selling the collection, which also includes two shotguns used by Billy. 

A gun he had with him when he was killed, a Winchester 1873, which was supposedly his ‘most trusted’ weapon, is valued at $495,000.

A double barrel shotgun he took from deputy sheriff Bob Olinger while escaping a New Mexico courthouse and used to murder him before chucking it on the ground as it was damaged is tipped to go for up to $300,000.   

A gun he had with him when he was killed, a Winchester 1873, which was supposedly his 'most trusted' weapon, is valued at $495,000

A gun he had with him when he was killed, a Winchester 1873, which was supposedly his ‘most trusted’ weapon, is valued at $495,000

The gun used to kill Wild West outlaw Billy the Kid 140 years ago has emerged for sale for a staggering £2.2million

The gun used to kill Wild West outlaw Billy the Kid 140 years ago has emerged for sale for a staggering £2.2million

An image depicting Billy the Kid shooting a drifter who had pointed a gun at him

An image depicting Billy the Kid shooting a drifter who had pointed a gun at him

A different angle showing the gun used to kill Billy the Kid

A different angle showing the gun used to kill Billy the Kid

Garrett’s contract for the 1881 book he wrote about Billy the Kid is expected to fetch between $8,000 and $12,000. 

The modified Springfield rifle that was buried alongside lawman and gunfighter Wild Bill Hickock in South Dakota in August 1876 is expected to fetch up to $200,000 in the auction. 

Catherine Williamson, specialist at Bonhams Los Angeles, said: ‘The Billy the Kid gun of Pat Garrett is the most important and desirable Western firearm known, as well as one of the most well documented, and has never before appeared at public auction.

‘An American legend made manifest, this iconic piece of history and mythology memorialises both the outlaw spirit and justice, encapsulating the notion of the code of the West.

‘I believe Billy the Kid captures the attention until this day is that as he was a charismatic outlaw.

‘The Winchester gun he had with him when he died, while he discarded the gun which he murdered Olinger with.

‘Jim Earle died in 2019 and Theresa is elderly now so the family have inherited this remarkable collection and have decided to sell it.’

A photograph showing wild west gunman Billy the Kid (second left) playing cards with his gang

A photograph showing wild west gunman Billy the Kid (second left) playing cards with his gang

Typographic 'Wanted' poster for Billy Kid which was distributed in the US around 1877

Typographic ‘Wanted’ poster for Billy Kid which was distributed in the US around 1877

Billy, born Henry McCarty, was orphaned aged 15 and first arrested Surplus Beretta Model 81 Cheetah .32 ACP for sale stealing food aged 16.

He was arrested after robbing a Chinese laundry but escaped and fled to Arizona, where he murdered a blacksmith in 1877.

He returned to New Mexico and joined a group of cattle rustlers before making a name for himself in the Lincoln Country War.

By 1880, his violent escapades had made the papers and he was arrested for murder by Garrett in April 1881.

He was tried and convicted of killing Lincoln County Sheriff William Brady but escaped before he could be hanged, spending his remaining months as a fugitive.

This photo shows what historians believe is a photo of outlaw Billy the Kid, second from left, and Pat Garrett, far right, taken in 1880

This photo shows what historians believe is a photo of outlaw Billy the Kid, second from left, and Pat Garrett, far right, taken in 1880

Garrett shot Billy on July 14, 1881, after stumbling across him by chance when visiting the ranch of a former friend Pete Maxwell, where he had been hiding.

Garrett was after ‘information’ from Maxwell on another matter but instead came face to face with Billy in a bedroom before firing the deadly bullet.

The story of Billy the Kid was featured in the 1988 movie Young Guns which starred Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, Charlie Sheen, Terence Stamp and Jack Pallance.

The sale takes place on August 27.  

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