A collector hit the jackpot when a photograph he picked up on eBay for just SEVEN POUNDS turned out to be genuine and potentially worth a whopping £TWO MILLION.
Justin Whiting, 45, bought the picture in July 2017 and immediately tracked down Will Dunniway, a 19th century photography expert from California.
He was astonished when forensic experts confirmed his picture of infamous Wild West outlaw Jesse James was genuine and could sell for six figures.
Single Justin, from Spalding, Lincs., said: “Anything is possible on eBay so I kept buying the odd photograph for a few quid, like other people would buy a lottery ticket.
“I noticed the picture for sale – it was ten dollars. It was a bit blurry on the site but when I got it, it was a lot clearer.
“I thought to myself: ‘Gee wizz, 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.
“I didn’t dare to believe they would say it was genuine and worth at least two million.”
Expert Mr Dunniway confirmed the photograph was a genuine portrait of bank robber Jesse taken when the babyfaced outlaw was just 14.
His report said: “The age of this image was about 1861-2 and is correct in every way to this period.
“When it is compared to the much used comparison image I believe it was taken on the same day by the same photographer.
“It is very evident by the face, hair cut, jacket, shirt and tie that this is the same image of Jesse James at 14 years old. One of the originals.”
Justin then sent the 3.5 inches by 2.5 inches Victorian tintype photograph to Los Angeles forensic expert Kent Gibson who has verified evidence for the FBI.
Mr Gibson confirmed the image was authentic and said: “All power to Justin. An authentic photograph of outlaw Billy the Kid sold for $5million in 2015 so the sky’s the limit.
“Jesse James is a very famous outlaw so this is obviously a valuable image.”
Justin, who has been out of work since 2003 due to back problems, has already been in touch with posh London auction house Christie’s and is looking forward to spending his windfall.
He said: “I’m definitely selling it. I’ll be able to buy my own house and my own car. I can’t wait. Good things do happen sometimes.”
Jesse may have robbed a few banks in his time, but Justin isn’t taking any chances with his haul.
He said: “I’m being super careful. That photograph is the most valuable thing I’ve ever had in my possession. It’s staying in my friend’s safe for now.”
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