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Billy the Kid and other legendary bandits "captured" in Society of the Four Arts exhibit
Gen. Custer’s rifle.
PALM BEACH, FL.- Art enthusiasts, American history buffs and lovers of the ‘real’ Old West have a rare opportunity not only to see the only existing tintype portrait of legendary outlaw Billy the Kid but also to get a glimpse inside the thought process of William I. Koch, energy magnate and one of the country’s most renowned art collectors. Koch has loaned a myriad of western art and artifacts from his personal collection to the Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach, FL, for a special exhibition entitled “Recapturing the Real West: The Collections of William I. Koch.” On display now through April 29, nearly 80 percent of the items have never before been displayed publicly.

In addition to the 130-year-old portrait of Billy the Kid, which made headlines last year when it sold for a record $2.3 million at auction, highlights of the exhibition include:

• Original paintings and sculptures by artists such as Charlie Russell and Frederic Remington;

• More than 150 guns from notorious outlaws such as Jesse James, John Wesley Hardin and the Ford Brothers, as well as from the legendary lawmen that pursued them;

• The multi-million dollar Carson City Gold Collection;

• General Custer’s guidon from the Battle of Little Big Horn;

• And one of the only authentic photographs of legendary sharpshooter Annie Oakley.

The galleries are divided into the following sections: Native American Culture; Guns & General Store; Migration and Economic Growth Post Civil War and Indian Wars; Outlaws and Lawmen; Brothel & Saloon; Mining; Women in the West; and Cowboy Life. The exhibition makes use of every surface in the museum – with Native American garments hung from the ceiling and a collection of wagons and coaches displayed on the gallery lawn.

This expansive exhibition not only explores the history of America’s West, but is also a very personal and rare glimpse into William Koch’s process of collecting art. The exhibit is designed to feel less like a visit to a traditional museum; instead patrons will feel as though they are visiting Mr. Koch’s personal home – with fine art displayed in salon style alongside relics of the West. Side-by-side, the displays evoke the spirit of the West and enhance the patron’s experience by providing context and atmosphere. Mr. Koch was personally involved in the curation and design of the exhibition, adding to the authenticity of the experience.

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