The records set by other expensive guns have been shattered by the sale of the Colt single-action revolve that killed Billy the Kid. The famous firearm, on sale for the first time, had been valued at up to three million dollars. It was sold by Bonhams auction house for more than six million to a buyer who wished to remain anonymous. It has now become by far the most expensive firearm ever purchased.
Historic gun sets new record
Billy the Kid, born Henry McCarty, remains iconic as one of the most notorious outlaws to emerge from the American West, a part of history which remains fascinating to many people around the world.
The gun which killed him belonged to his nemesis, Sheriff Pat Garrett. On July 14, 1881 the sheriff ambushed and killed the outlaw at the culmination of a months long pursuit .
The notoriety of Billy the Kid is derived in large part from the age at which he committed his crimes; he reputedly had killed 27 men before being shot by Garrett at the age of 21.
Among those he had murdered during his brief life of crime were two deputies who were killed during his escape from jail following his capture by Sheriff Garrett.
Rumors of McCarty’s survival have never been substantiated and the gun sold at auction is considered to have a very reliable provenance.
Garrett killed Billy the Kid with one shot to the chest using the Colt. The fame of the outlaw ensured that the weapon remained a valuable piece of memorabilia even after Garrett was himself shot to death.
West remains popular with collectors
The gun had been expected to fetch a very high price at auction but the six million dollars for which it was ultimately sold doubled the highest predictions.
That price shattered the previous record set in 2002 by the sale of a pair of flintlock pistols which had been gifted to George Washington by the Marquis de Lafayette.
Other guns connected to famous figures from the American West have been purchased for hundreds of thousands of dollars, though nothing has come close to this new record.
The identity of the buyer is unknown but there is no shortage of individuals who are fascinated enough by the West to spend lavishly on such a famous piece of its history.
The previous owner, who died in 2019, had held it as part of a vast collection of guns and other assorted artifacts from the West.
Items associated with such a romanticized and attention grabbing part of history will clearly not be declining in value any time soon.