A piece of history fell into the hands of the highest bidder at an auction this past weekend. Infamous outlaw and gunslinger Robert LeRoy Parker’s (better known as Butch Cassidy) Colt .45 revolver sold to an anonymous online bidder for $175,000 on Sunday through an auction run by RMK Services. Some say the gun was better documented than Cassidy’s fate.
Made famous by the 1969 film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid featuring Paul Newman and Robert Redford, the bank- and train-robbing outlaw lived a gangster life: making money as a robber, running from the law and brandishing an impressive weapon and elegant threads. Born in 1866, he committed his first bank robbery in his early 20s, the time when he also acquired his gun the .45-caliber Colt Single Action Army Revolver.
At the age of 33, Cassidy was moved by the imprisonment or loss of fellow gang members. In hopes of starting a new life away from crime, he sought amnesty with the state of Utah and in 1899, turned in this gun to the authorities. Then-governor of Utah, Heber Wells, at first considered his request, but because Cassidy was accused of killing a man, his request was rejected. After another failed attempt at reconciliation, Cassidy decided to return to a life of crime, robbing again before he fled to South America. The video below goes into further detail of his exploits.
The Colt .45, a holster and a Winchester 1873 carbine were secured from Cassidy. The Winchester has since disappeared, but his Colt was kept by Sheriff Christison until it was passed down to his associates. A man named John Neilson eventually acquired the gun who then sold it to E. Dixon Larson, an author and historic weapons expert.
While most records maintain that Cassidy met his fate in 1908 in a barrage of bullets from police in Bolivia, Cassidy’s sister claims he snuck back into the United States and lived decades longer under a false name.