One eBay user got much more than he bargained for after purchasing a $10 photo, only for it to be the genuine article — a portrait of Jesse James — with an estimated worth of $2.8million.
Back in July of last year, Justin Whiting, 45, purchased the photo of outlaw Jesse James via the online auction site, before contacting a 19th-Century photography expert. You can imagine his surprise when the team contacted him to confirm the photo was genuine, and not a replica. He was advised it could sell for a 7-figure sum.
UK-based Whiting says he prefers to take chances on cheap potential collector's items on eBay, comparing it to how others buy lottery tickets. Describing how the photo was a lot clearer in person than in the advertised images on the listing, he said:
I thought to myself: ‘Gee whiz, this could be a real photo!’ I’ve been obsessed with American outlaws for years and read lots of books and study their faces.
The picture was identical to the one in my book, except it was full length. All my friends said it was the same but I knew I needed to contact experts.
Expert Will Dunniway confirmed the portrait was legitimate, taken of James when he was just 14 years of age, estimating it had been snapped sometime between 1861-2. The photo has since been verified by FBI forensic expert Kent Gibson.
Having been out of work since 2003 due to a back injury, Whiting confirmed to the New York Post that he plans to sell the image at auction. In the meantime, he’s being incredibly cautious: “That photograph is the most valuable thing I’ve ever had in my possession. It’s staying in my friend’s safe for now.”
Lead image credit: Fancycrave from Pexels