old photos
Sean Cate
Sean Cate
April 11, 2024 ·  4 min read

Man Buys $2 Photo at Flea Market That Ends Up Worth Millions

The Unexpected Find

Rummaging through discarded memorabilia at a junk shop is a pastime many indulge in. But few can match the luck of Randy Guijarro, who happened upon a precious artifact on one of his usual thrift store explorations. In 2010, Guijarro bought a trove of items at a Fresno, California, flea market for a mere $2, unaware of the fortune he held.1 It wasn’t until later that he realized that he had, in fact, purchased a photograph of significant historical value – a snap capturing the infamous outlaw Billy the Kid, once deemed “the most dangerous man in the West.”

A Glimpse Into The Past

As Guijarro examined the photograph closely, he found himself face to face with an unassuming figure who would turn out to be an emblem of America’s Wild West past. It was a casual scene from the 1870s, with a group of individuals enjoying a game of croquet outside a humble New Mexico building.2 But who could have imagined that the young man, with a characteristic hat perched on his head, was none other than the notorious “Kid“?

Billy The Kid with his gang, The Regulators.
Image Credit: Kagins.com

Guijarro’s interest was piqued, and he dedicated the next year of his life to validating the authenticity of the image. The young man, whose real name was Henry McCarty but widely known as Billy the Kid, was an infamous American gunslinger who allegedly killed eight men before his death at the age of 21.

Guijarro sought the assistance of experts and engaged in painstaking research. Through this process, he unveiled the photo’s backstory – this was the infamous outlaw with his gang, The Regulators. What was even more startling was that this was only the second confirmed photograph of the Kid, with the first sold for $2.3 million in 2011. This second, larger photo was insured for $5 million.3

Read: Authorities Seize Whale Poop Worth $1 Million in Sting Operation

Delving Deeper: Who Were Billy the Kid and His Gang?

The Kid’s early life was shrouded in mystery, born into hardship and soon falling into the world of violence and crime. He was infamous for his involvement in the Lincoln County War, a bloody feud in New Mexico marked by revenge killings and lawlessness.4

Alongside the Kid, the photograph also features some of his gang, The Regulators. Assembled by the Englishman John Tunstall, this band of gunmen was known for their ruthlessness and agility. The gang played a significant role in the brutal violence for which the Lincoln County War became famous. Billy the Kid was caught and escaped two times before his final showdown, with Sheriff Garrett being caught and killed in July of 1881. 

The found photograph humanizes these figures, showing not hardened outlaws but a group of friends that can kick back and enjoy a game like croquet. The Kid’s criminal activities eventually caught up with him at a young age, yet his life and exploits continue to fascinate historians and enthusiasts alike.

From $2 To A Million

Once Guijarro’s find was authenticated, the value of the photo shot up astronomically. It was initially estimated to be worth around $5 million, which is why he had it insured for that much. The snapshot encapsulated a carefree moment in the life of a notorious criminal, a stark contrast to the single known photograph of Billy the Kid – a tintype image portraying a hardened outlaw holding a Winchester rifle.

The validation of Guijarro’s find signaled a turning point in the portrayal of the Kid’s life. It showed a more human side of the desperado, highlighting that the Kid had moments of leisure and companionship like anyone else. This counter-narrative adds depth to our understanding of these iconic figures, reminding us of their multifaceted humanity beyond their reputations as outlaws.

Guijarro’s $2 photo purchase turned out to be a treasure trove that redefined history and fetched a fortune. His story is a testament to the magic of flea markets and the unexpected treasures they can hold, and it underlines the enduring allure of the Wild West, a period in American history characterized by lawlessness, adventure, and the quest for fortune.

Guijarro and his wife plan to use whatever money the photo fetches to become hunters for the next adventure. The idea of rummaging and finding the next big ticket item has excited the two, and they now have the funds to scratch that itch for more than a few years to come. 

Keep Reading: Amateur gold digger finds massive nugget worth over $160,000.


  1. Man who discovered rare Billy the Kid photo: ‘The hunt is a really grand thing’.” The Guardian. Rory Carroll. October 2015.
  2. $2 Photo Found At Junk Store Has Billy The Kid In It, Could Be Worth $5M.” NPR. Brakkton Booker. October 15, 2015.
  3. Does This Photo Really Show Billy the Kid? It’s a $5 Million Question.” National Geography. Becky Little. October 15, 2015.
  4. Billy the Kid.” Crime Museum.