Sole surviving image of notorious wild west outlaw had been expected to fetch no more than $400,000.

A photograph believed to be the only surviving image of Billy the Kid has been bought by a private collector for $2.3m (£1.4m) at auction.

The black and white tintype of the 19th-century wild west outlaw was sold at auction in Denver, Colorado, and is believed to have been taken in 1879 or 1880 in Fort Sumner, New Mexico.

The hammer price, which included a seller's fee, was far higher than expected. The auction house had expected the portrait to go for no more than $400,000.

Melissa McCracken, a spokeswoman from the auction house, said: “There's only one photo of Billy the Kid, and I think that's why it captivates people's imagination.”

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