The gun used to kill the notorious Wild West outlaw Billy the Kid 140 years ago went up for public auction for the first time on Friday, Aug. 27 and sold for $6 million. The Colt Single Action firearm belonged to Sheriff Pat Garrett, who shot and killed Billy the Kid at a ranch in Fort Sumner, New Mexico, on July 14, 1881. Auction house Bonhams, sold the gun in Los Angeles and described it as a “relic of one of the most important and well-known stories of the Wild West.” According to Bonhams, it sold to Texas-based collectors and college professors Jim and Theresa Earle for over double its high estimate of $3 million – setting a world auction record for a firearm.
Billy the Kid, born Henry McCarty and also known as William Bonney, was one of the most wanted criminals of American Old West and killed at least eight people.
Garrett had previously captured Billy the Kid, who was convicted of murder and jailed in April 1881. He was sentenced to be hanged but escaped from Lincoln County Courthouse, stealing a gun from Garrett’s office and shooting two guards on the way out.
Weeks later, Garrett tracked him down to the Fort Sumner ranch, where he shot him dead. Pat Garrett’s handwritten contract for the publication of his book The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid, which told his version of events, and is expected to auction for $8,000-$12,000.
Fort Sumner, NM hosts the Billy the Kid museum and his gravesite.