• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

$200M Ansel Adams photos found at garage sale

July 27, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A few years ago, a man bought a few photo negatives at a garage sale for $45. It turns out they may be the lost work of the great Ansel Adams, and they could be worth a fortune.The pictures that were found by Rick Norsigian of Fresno were snapped about 80 years ago. They came from 65 glass negatives found in a box at a garage sale in Fresno.

The discovery is now making news around the world because Adams may have taken them.

"These, in fact, are the lost negatives of Ansel Adams," said Arnold Peters, Norsigian's attorney.

The nature photographer, best known for his pictures of the western states, saw more than 5,000 of his negatives burn in a studio fire in 1937.

But when Arsegian, a house painter, came across the negatives of the prints 10 years ago, he thought they looked very Adamesque.

What may the pictures be worth now?"

"It's conservative to say it could reach into the hundreds of millions with what can happen from these negatives," said David Streets, an art appraiser.

"When I heard that $200 million I got a little weak," said Norsigian with a laugh.

In fact, art historian Robert Moeller is so sure they are the work of Adams, he said it five times.

"Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes," Moeller said. "These are right. That's the man himself."

They point to fire damage on some of the negatives.

Handwriting experts say the script on the old negative envelopes is that of Virginia Adams, Ansel's wife. They even had a meteorologist compare the clouds, shadows and snowcaps in the photos to bona fide Adams' scenes.

"It's so gratifying to have a piece of history and to be able to share this with everyone," Norsigian said.

The head of the Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust is not convinced the photos are the real thing. He called it, "An unfortunate fraud."


Load Comments