Brian Lebel (above) believes more people will appreciate great Old West artifacts so long as they are aware of what is available. This is why he launched his own auction, and he has been the guy collectors go to ever since. – Courtesy Brian Lebel –

Brian Lebel has had his hands on some pretty amazing Western history. He is the guy who brought the Billy the Kid tintype to the True West offices, in the spring of 2011, and allowed us to hold it in our hands. What a day that was! When you hold the real photo, you can see so many things. It’s downright emotional.

And, of course, Brian was the one who facilitated the auction of that tintype. His Old West Auction sold the one-and-only Kid photograph to William Koch for $2.3 million.

Brian has also handled Tom Horn’s Winchester, the gun that killed Morgan Earp, Annie Oakley’s wedding ring and an original reward poster for Frank and Jesse James. He’s seen up close and personal a ton of valuable artwork, gear and saddles that were showcased in his collectibles show, held along with the auction, in his nearly 30-year career. The list goes on and on.

Old West history collectors turn to him now more than ever. In 2014, the 25th anniversary year of his Old West event, Brian and his wife, Melissa, acquired High Noon Show & Auction, held every January in Mesa, Arizona. He is certainly doing all he can to help preserve and present America’s frontier history through the arts and artifacts of the American West.

It gives me great pleasure to bestow upon Brian our  highest honor, True Westerner of the Year. On January 19, True West will present the True Westerner statue to Brian at Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West, this year’s Best Western Museum. For more of the year’s Best, read on!

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