The Gun Used to Kill Billy the Kid Achieves US$6 Million at Bonhams
Establishes World Auction Record for Firearm
THE GUN THAT KILLED BILLY THE KID: PAT GARRETT'S COLT SINGLE ACTION ARMY REVOLVER USED TO KILL BILLY THE KID. Serial number 55093 for 1880, .44-40 caliber 7 1/2 inch barrel, one line Hartford address crescent ejector rod head.

Los Angeles – Lively bidding was seen on the phone, online, and in the sale room on Friday, August 27, 2021 as Bonhams sold the gun Pat Garrett used to kill Billy the Kid for $6,030,313, a world auction record for any firearm. It was estimated at $2-3 million. The firearm was the top lot in the single-owner sale The Early West: The Collection of Jim and Theresa Earle, which achieved a total of $12,387,124, selling 92% by lot and 99% by value.

The gun, a Colt Single Action Revolver owned by Sheriff Pat Garrett was used to kill Billy the Kid on July 14, 1881, at Pete Maxwell's Ranch. It stands as a relic of one of the most important and well-known stories of the Wild West. Now part of the American mythology, Garrett's friendship with the Kid, their mutual respect, and his subsequent hunt, capture, escape and death have become the stuff of legend.

Catherine Williamson, Bonhams Director of Books & Manuscripts, said: "This sale was a tribute to Jim and Theresa Earle and it was a tremendous privilege to bring their historic Western collection to auction. The top lot, Pat Garrett's gun that killed Billy the Kid, attracted attention from all around the world and led to a world auction record for a firearm. This momentum continued and we saw determined bidding from clients that drove the sale as one of the most valuable private collections of Western memorabilia offered at auction."

Additional highlights include:

Billy the Kid Whitney Double Barrel Hammer Shotgun Taken From Deputy Bob Olinger and Used to Kill Him During Billy the Kid's Dramatic Lincoln County Courthouse Escape on April 28, 1881.
Sold for $978,313

John Selman's Colt Single Action Army Revolver Used to Shoot John Wesley Hardin at the Acme Saloon in El Paso, Texas, August 19, 1895.
Sold for $858,313

John Wesley Hardin's Smith & Wesson Double Action "Frontier" Revolver Carried When He Was Killed by John Selman.
Sold for $625,313

Wild Bill Hickok's Springfield Trapdoor Rifle Buried by His Side at Deadwood South Dakota on August 3, 1876.
Sold for $475,313

Jim and Theresa Earle

Jim Earle (1932-2019) was born and raised in Jacksonville, TX, and attended Texas A&M University. He was a star athlete, a boxer and a track star, but also found the time to author a popular comic strip in the university paper, Cadet Slouch, that ran for nearly 30 years. He married Theresa Gatlin in 1957, earned a Ph.D. and returned to A&M to teach in the Engineering Design Graphics Department, later serving as Department Head. Jim and Theresa began their collection in 1973, buying heavily throughout the 1970s and 1980s, and rarely selling. Many of these guns have now been off the market for nearly 50 years, only seen in some cases on exhibition at the Texas Ranger Museum in Waco, or other reputable institutions.

Contacts

Related auctions

App