MESA, Ariz. – Pancho Villa – infamous renegade, Robin Hood, revolutionary and hero of the Mexican people – was assassinated almost 100 years ago, at the age of 45. His adventurous life has been celebrated numerous times on the silver screen, in museums and institutions around the world, and his name appears on street signs and plazas throughout the Americas. What remains today of this complex and mysterious man are facts, folklore and his final magnificent silver threaded saddle. That saddle will now appear on the world stage when it is auctioned on Jan. 28, 2012 in High Noon’s Western Americana auction in Mesa, Arizona. It is expected to make $150,000 to $250,000.
The provenance of this saddle matches the richness of Villa’s life. It was given by Villa’s widow and only legal wife (reportedly he had eight marriages) to famed Hollywood director Howard Hawks during the filming of Viva Villa. Mrs. Villa felt the film extolled the merits of the Mexican Revolution and Villa as she knew him. For the past 20 years, Villa’s saddle has been on display in Texas, at the Witte Museum in San Antonio and the South Texas History Museum in Edinburg.
In excellent condition, the saddle is smothered in silver-wrapped threads and boldly-domed silver conchos. Made and marked by expert craftsmen, it has Francisco (nickname: Pancho) Villa’s initials in high relief on the stirrups. Thematically, it has a 3-dimensional silver snakehead and a carved diablo in the leather under the saddlebags. Joseph Sherwood of High Noon remarked, “This is the trifecta for saddles – beautiful, in great condition and historically significant.”
Linda Kohn Sherwood of High Noon observed that Pancho Villa was “both a charismatic hero and cruel outlaw” who survived countless battles during his country’s struggle for freedom. His place in history is a paradox. He was a revolutionary idealist who believed firmly in public education, health and good government; but on the other hand, he was a vicious and mean spirited, and would do anything to win.
The saddle’s colorful history also has a Hollywood mystique. Pancho Villa has been played by more than 35 actors since 1919, including Telly Savalas and Antonio Banderas. The most recent rumor is that Johnny Depp may be next.
The 22nd Annual High Noon Western Americana Weekend Event will be held Jan. 28-29, 2012 at the Mesa Convention Center in Mesa, Arizona. For additional information, visit www.highnoon.com or call High Noon at 310-202-9010.
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