The silver-trimmed leather saddle that belonged to Pancho Villa, the Mexican revolutionary who was assassinated in 1923, was auctioned for $718,000. The quality of the saddle, aided by the significance of its owner, led to a price almost three times estimate. The High Noon Western Americana auction in Mesa, Arizona, said the new owner plans to have the saddle displayed at a museum soon.
Photo courtesy of High Noon Western Americana Auction.
Pancho Villa has a history filled with crimes, heroic deeds, movie star glamour unknowns . He was born José Doroteo Arango about 1877. At 16, he shot the man he thought might have raped his sister. So he left town, hid in the mountains and joined some rustlers led by a man named Francisco Pancho Villa. When Francisco was killed, Doroteo took his name and became head of the gang. The “new” Pancho Villa was soon heralded as a Mexican Robin Hood as he robbed or killed the rich and their families to give to the poor. In 1910, he and his gang joined peasants in their revolution. He became a national hero and newspapers wanted to report his activities. A camera crew from Mutual Film Company of New York got the rights to his fights in the Mexican Revolution and he was suddenly a movie star. There was make up, haircuts, wardrobe and guns, and the battles that were covered in the films became the first newsreels. In 1915, he lost a big battle, blamed the United States, and started killing Americans, including some in New Mexico. Still a hero in Mexico but not in the U.S., he was chased by the U.S. Army. They failed to find him and they left in 1917.
The story does not have a happy ending. Pancho Villa settled in a Mexican town and in 1923 was assassinated in an ambush by seven Mexicans. He was buried but the story STILL does not end. In 1926, grave robbers stole his head and it has never been found. Today he is honored in both the United States and Mexico for his role in the revolution and his desire to help the Mexican people.