HOPES are high that a rare Ned Kelly photograph being auctioned next week will end up being displayed at Beechworth.
The image has the bushranger in a boxing pose and is dated 1874, the year Kelly fought Isaiah “Wild” Wright bare-knuckled over 20 rounds at Beechworth.
Auction house Leonard Joel is selling the photograph next Thursday in Melbourne.
It has an estimated sale price of $20,000 to $30,000.
Wangaratta solicitor and Kelly devotee John Suta said he would be bidding, while a consortium of Beechworth locals are also interested in the item which is being sold by a private collector from Melbourne.
“I’m very confident,” Mr Suta said when asked how he rated his chances of being the winning bidder.
He plans to loan it for display at Beechworth if he succeeds.
“It belongs in the Ned Kelly Vault or the jail,” Mr Suta said.
Burke Museum director Cameron Auty, who oversees the vault, welcomed the prospect of being able to house the photograph.
“We’re not going to bid against the other local groups that are going for it, but we’re hoping it ends up in Beechworth and ends up in the Ned Kelly Vault,” Mr Auty said.
“I think it would be amazing, it’s such a key part of the Ned Kelly story and its linked to Beechworth, not like some other Kelly memorabilia, this photo relates to an event in Beechworth’s history.”
Mr Auty said the condition of the 103 x 63 millimetre picture meant it could not be permanently on show.
“Our advice would be it stay in storage and we would bring it out for special events,” he said.
“Environmental conditions are not good for long term display of photos, UV and pests you have to be really wary of.”
The image, which has the stamp of Melbourne Portrait Rooms and photographer JJ Childley on its back, was last auctioned in 2003 when it was bought from a Hong Kong private collection.
The photograph was little known until 1962 when it was displayed in the window of a St Kilda shop and then written about by Kelly historian Ian Jones.
The lot preceding the boxing photograph is one of the bushranger’s brother Dan Kelly which is tipped to sell for $6000 to $8000.
He appears seated on an upholstered chair with his left arm resting on a side table.