Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
The Wild West continues to capture the imagination of the world. And, on Friday, a piece of New Mexico history during this era broke a record at auction.
The Colt Single Action that Lincoln County Sheriff Pat Garrett used to shoot Billy the Kid in the chest on July 14, 1881, killing the outlaw, was bought for $6,030,312.
According to auction house Bonhams, it sold for over double its high estimate of $3 million – setting a world auction record for a firearm.
“The previous record for a firearm was $1.98 million, set by Christie’s in 2002 for a pair of flintlock saddle pistols carried by (George) Washington during the Revolutionary War that were gifts from his friend and ally the Marquis de Lafayette,” said Jessica Stanley, Bonhams senior press manager.
The revolver is part of the collection of Texas-based collectors and college professors Jim and Theresa Earle. The couple have been assembling a collection of firearms for decades.
Stanley said this was the first time Garrett’s gun had been up for auction.
While Garrett’s pistol is the star of the show, “The Early West: The Collection of Jim and Theresa Earle” included 265 lots.
These include the most important and well-documented collection of historical firearms belonging to Western lawmen and outlaw legends, along with manuscripts, photographs and memorabilia. The lot also includes more of New Mexico and Old West history, including:
• Billy the Kid’s Whitney Double Barrel Hammer Shotgun taken from Deputy Bob Olinger and used to kill him during the Kid’s dramatic Lincoln County Courthouse escape on April 28, 1881. It was estimated to go for between $200,000-$300,000. It sold on Friday for $978,312.
• Wild Bill Hickok’s Springfield Trapdoor Rifle buried by his side at Deadwood, South Dakota, on Aug. 3, 1876. Its estimate was between $150,000-$200,000. It sold for $475,312.
• The most famous of Bat Masterson’s Colt Single Actions, ordered July 24, 1885, from the Opera House Saloon, Dodge City, Kansas. It was estimated to fetch between $200,000-$300,000. It sold for $375,312.