Controversial Wyatt Earp Guns Up for Auction

Guns that reportedly belonged to Wyatt Earp, one of the most iconic figures of the Old West, are slated to go on the auction block on April 17 at the J. Levine Auction & Appraisal in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The owner of the auction house, Josh Levine, told the Arizona Republic the collection also includes guns owned by Virgil Earp and their grandfather. But the centerpiece is a .45 caliber revolver Earp descendants say he carried in Tombstone, Ariz.; possibly at the infamous shootout at the O.K. Corral.

"This is American history here -- and not only is it that, it's Western folklore... This gun, the O.K. Corral shootout, it's lived on where other stories have not stood the test of time," Levine said.

But not everyone believes the collection's pedigree. Before his death, Glenn Boyer, the owner of the guns and author of three Earp books, admitted some of his work mixed fact with fiction, making it hard to separate the gun's authenticity from Boyer's misgivings. The auction house is also offering up 32 file boxes filled with photos, manuscripts and taped interviews of people who knew Earp to back Boyer's claims, though collectors like John Boessenecker says there's no way to verify whether Boyer fabricated some of the accounts.

"When you have things that come from a highly reputable collection or collector, most collectors would accept those," he said. "The biggest problem is that anything that came through Glenn Boyer's hands -- how do we know Glenn Boyer didn't write it himself?"

Levine believes the combined bids for the shotgun and revolver will reach around $275,000. A shotgun that reportedly belonged to Wyatt's friend Doc Holliday fetched $200,000 at auction in 1999. An online stream will broadcast the auction live and anyone can watch or bid beginning at 6 p.m. (MT) at www.jlevines.com