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September 27, 2021

Gun that killed Billy the Kid sells for $6 million

Catherine Williamson, director of entertainment memorabilia at auction house Bonhams, holds the Colt single-action Army revolver used to kill Billy the Kid during a media preview in Los Angeles, California, Aug. 5, 2021. (Mario Anzuoni, Reuters)

LOS ANGELES — The gun that killed American Wild West outlaw Billy the Kid sold for more than $6 million at auction on Friday in Los Angeles, more than double the pre-sale estimate.

Bonhams auctioneers said the Colt single-action revolver that Sheriff Pat Garrett used to take down Billy the Kid in 1881 was bought over the phone by a person who wished to remain anonymous.

Bonhams, which described the gun as “the most iconic treasure of early Western history,” said the $6.03 million price was a world record for any firearm. It had been expected to fetch between $2 million and $3 million.

Billy the Kid was a wanted man in Arizona and New Mexico, killing eight men. After a monthslong pursuit, Garrett tracked him down to a ranch in Fort Sumner, New Mexico, and shot and killed him on July 14, 1881. Billy the Kid was 21 years old.

The story of the 19th-century outlaw has been chronicled in pop culture for almost 100 years, including in movies such as “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid” and “Young Guns.”

The gun came from the collection of Texas couple Jim and Theresa Earle, who amassed Western firearms and other artifacts for some 50 years. Jim Earle died in 2019.


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