Turns out the negatives, which Norsigian bought for $45 after talking the seller down from $70, are those of the famous nature photographer Ansel Adams. And they’re worth hundreds of millions, according to some appraisers.
"These photographs are really the missing link," said Arnold Peter, a lawyer for Norsigian, at the unveiling of the negatives at a Los Angeles art gallery Tuesday. "They really fill the void in Ansel Adams' early career."
A team of experts put together by Norsigian said the glass plates, which portray scenes from Yosemite National Park and San Francisco, were likely taken between 1919 and the early 1930s. They were previously believed to have been destroyed in a 1937 darkroom fire that consumed 5,000 glass negatives.” MORE
26 – Pillsbury-Foster receives an email from Ryan Sullivan of PETER RUBIN & SIMON, LLP regarding use of AC photo.
“Rick Norsigian kept two boxes he bought at a garage sale under his pool table for four years before realizing they may be too valuable to store at home.
The Fresno, California, commercial painter learned this week that what was in those boxes he paid $45 dollars for a decade ago could be worth more than $200 million.
"When I heard that $200 million, I got a little weak," Norsigian said at a Beverly Hills art gallery Tuesday.
Art, forensic, handwriting and weather experts teamed up to conclude the 65 glass plates in the boxes were photographic negatives created more than 80 years ago by Ansel Adams, the iconic American photographer whose images of the West inspired the country.” MORE Photocritic International - “On July 27, 2010, Fresno, CA public-school employee Rick Norsigian and a team of “experts” went public with the claim that 65 glass-plate negatives Norsigian acquired in 2000 at a yard sale for $45 represented “The Lost Negatives of Ansel Adams,” worth $200 million. This sensational news quickly circulated internationally.
Learning of this while on a sojourn in China, I began to track, investigate, and comment on this story as it developed. This coverage continues. Links to and synopses of pertinent posts in this blog, which in turn contain links to relevant documents, news stories, and other related information, can be found below in chronological order, with the most recent first:”
“A claim that several dozen glass plates bought for $45 at a garage sale were negatives from Ansel Adams brought an angry response of disbelief from the man who oversees the famed photographer's trust.
Adams' grandson is also unconvinced. Matthew Adams, who runs the Ansel Adams Gallery, said even if they are authenticated, they are not worth much beyond their historical value.
The art dealer who placed their eventual value at more than $200 million said Wednesday that the controversy is increasing their value by "driving the market to them." MORE "With all the publicity about the alleged "Ansel Adams" pictures bought by Rick Norsigian at a Fresno yard sale over the past few days, the real identity of the pictures may have come to light." MORE
KTVU Channel 2 in Oakland broke the story on its evening news last night. As soon as a local woman named Miriam I. Walton saw the pictures, she recognized them as her Uncle Earl's. Earl Brooks was a lifelong resident of Fresno, where the 65 negatives were found, and often photographed at Yosemite. Mrs. Walton has four of his prints, one of which is nearly identical to one of the Norsigian pictures, with the same shadows and what look to be the same clouds after a few minutes of movement.
30 – Photocritic International - Cowflop from the Adams Herd (1) (July 30, 2010). In which I begin my critical coverage of the claim by Rick Norsigian and his collaborators to have discovered a trove of 65 “lost” negatives by Ansel Adams, with emphasis on the bizarre and deceitful responses to this claim of William Turnage, Managing Trustee of the Adams Trust, and Matthew Adams, grandson of Ansel and director of the Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite National Park.
“It's an irresistible story: A building painter in Fresno, Calif., hits the jackpot when he proves, after 10 years of trying, that he struck gold rummaging around at a garage sale.
That happened this week when Rick Norsigian announced to great fanfare that a batch of glass negatives he bought at a garage sale more than 10 years ago for $45 were taken by renowned photographer Ansel Adams. Speculation of their worth rose to $200 million.
That didn't go over too well with Adams' grandson and the estate, known as the Ansel Adams Trust. They're disputing the claims and threatening legal action. But, as you might expect, Norsigian plans to cash in just the same.
Norsigian enlisted a team of photography and handwriting experts to prove his claim. He even got a meteorologist who, looking at one of the negatives, declared the clouds and the snow cover proved it was taken on the same day Ansel Adams took one of his most famous photographs, the iconic Jeffrey pine tree in Yosemite.” MORE
10 - Photocritic International - Cowflop from the Adams Herd (2) (August 10, 2010). In which I examine the ludicrous claim by Beverly Hills gallerist David W. Streets that the Norsigian negatives, if authenticated, would be worth USD $200 million; contradict the assertions by William Turnage and Matthew Adams that they’re worthless; and offer my own more modest estimate of their real market value if proven to be made by Adams. 12 - Photocritic International - Team Norsigian Accentuates the Negative (1) (August 12, 2010). In which I initiate my investigation of the credentials of Team Norsigian, their methodologies for their inquiries, and the credibility of their claims of authentication of the disputed negatives as works by Adams. 14 - Photocritic International - Team Norsigian Accentuates the Negative (2) (August 14, 2010). In which I evaluate in brief the credentials of all members of Team Norsigian and the “Final Report” in which these characters claim to have authenticated the negatives as Adams’s work. With an advisory from me to Team Norsigian’s “forensics and criminalistics expert” and its “evidence and burden-of-proof analyst” on what would actually constitute a basic forensic and evidentiary investigation of these materials. 17 - Photocritic International - Team Norsigian Accentuates the Negative (3) (August 17, 2010). In which in examine in detail the credentials (or lack of same) of Beverly Hills gallerist David W. Streets, marketer of the Norsigian prints and the party responsible for the claim that the Norsigian negatives are worth $200 million. With musings on Streets’s just-revealed history as a convicted felon and con artist. 18 - Photocritic International - Team Norsigian Accentuates the Negative (4) (August 18, 2010). In which I note photographer Jesse Kalisher’s departure as custom printer of the Norsigian negatives, and provide a summing up of the story so far. 21 - Photocritic International - Team Norsigian Accentuates the Negative (5) (August 21, 2010). I which I relay the announcement that Team Norsigian, the Adams Trust, and the Center for Creative Photography had agreed on some authentication procedures (untrue, as it turned out); discuss my rejection of Arnold Peter’s offer to join Team Norsigian; and assess the significance of Team Norsigian’s locating Irving Schwartz of Fresno, from whom Rick Norsigian bought these negatives in 2000.
Rick Norsigian, an artist based in Fresno, owns the negatives that he contends are the creation of Adams. The artist purchased the negatives at a garage sale for $45. But Adams' heirs and the managers of his copyrights have challenged Norsigian's claims, insisting that the negative aren't the work of the famous photographer. They have also dismissed claims that the collection is worth $200 million.
On Monday, the Ansel Adams Publishing Trust sued Norsigian to stop him and the consulting firm PRS Media Partners from using Adams' name, likeness and trademark to sell prints not authorized by the Trust, according to an Associated Press report
The suit, which was filed in federal court in San Francisco, alleges trademark infringement and other claims. A lawyer for Norsigian told the AP that the suit is without merit and designed to harass his client.
24 - Photocritic International - Team Norsigian Accentuates the Negative (6) (August 24, 2010). In which I discuss the lawsuit, filed in federal district court in San Francisco on August 23 by The Ansel Adams Publishing Trust, that seeks to stop Rick Norsigian and consulting firm PRS Media Partners from using Adams’s trademarked name and likeness to market prints from the negatives in the Norsigian Collection. 25 - Photocritic International - Team Norsigian Accentuates the Negative (7) (August 25, 2010). In which I ponder at greater length the lawsuit filed against Team Norsigian in Federal District Court in San Francisco by The Ansel Adams Publishing Trust, and also examine Team Norsigian’s relationship up to that point with the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, AZ, the primary repository of Adams material. 28 - Photocritic International - Cowflop from the Adams Herd (3) (August 28, 2010). In which I continue my scrutiny of the tall tales coming from William “Wild Bill” Turnage, Managing Trustee of the Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust. Plus some questioning of the rights granted in perpetuity to Adams’s heirs and assigns to profit handsomely from their exclusive right to use Yosemite National Park for the marketing of their product line. 30 - Photocritic International - Team Norsigian Accentuates the Negative (8) (August 30, 2010). In which I report and comment on such diverse but related matters as the outing of Beverly Hills gallerist David W. Streets as a convicted felon; the recantation of his earlier authentication by Team Norsigian’s “art expert, Robert C. Moeller III; and the Center for Creative Photography’s issuing of a statement casting doubt on the negatives as works by Adams.
"A leading member of the expert team that declared that a box of negatives bought at a California garage sale were the lost work of Ansel Adams has changed his mind.
Robert C. Moeller III, a former curator at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and one of the experts hired by Rick Norsigian, a California man, to evaluate his find, said that after further review he had decided that at least some of the images Norsigian purchased were taken by an unheralded photographer, Earl Brooks.
“I made a mistake,” said Moeller, a former curator of European decorative arts and sculpture at the Boston museum, who was part of the team that in July announced the discovery of what it called Adams’ “lost negatives.”" MORE
1 - Photocritic International - Team Norsigian Accentuates the Negative (9) (September 1, 2010). In which I note the absence of hard forensic evidence supporting Team Norsigian’s claim that the disputed negatives show fire damage. Plus discussion of Team Norsigian’s response to the recantation and bailing out of their “art expert,” and some urging that research at the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson be renewed. Article: The Los Angeles Times - Ansel Adams archive enters the fray - The Center for Creative Photography sides with those who contend that a trove of negatives wasn't shot by Ansel Adams.|By Mike Boehm, "Breaking a silence it had maintained during a monthlong controversy, the leading archive housing Ansel Adams' photographs has disputed Rick Norsigian's claim that old-fashioned glass-plate negatives he bought at a garage sale in Fresno represent a "lost" chapter in the great nature photographer's career. "We have no reason to believe that these negatives are, in fact, the work of Ansel Adams," said the statement issued Tuesday by the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona in Tucson. The statement from its director, Katharine Martinez, also voiced support for a federal lawsuit filed last week by the Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust, claiming that Norsigian's efforts to advertise and sell the pictures as works by Adams violate its trademark rights." MORE 17 - Photocritic International - Team Norsigian Accentuates the Negative (10) (September 17, 2010). In which I weigh the request by Arnold Peter, attorney for Team Norsigian, that the federal District Court dismiss the trademark infringement suit brought against Rick Norsigian and Peter’s Beverly Hills firm PRS Media Partners by the Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust, on the grounds that this is a free-speech First Amendment issue.
26 - Team Norsigian Accentuates the Negative (11) (September 26, 2010). In which I offer an assessment of Team Norsigian’s preliminary commentary on assertions that Earl Brooks may have authored the Norsigian negatives. Plus brief discussion of the trailer of the Norsigian documentary film in progress, and other relevant matters.
6 - Photocritic International - Guest Post 7: Patrick Alt on the Norsigian/Adams Negatives ― October 6, 2010. In which Team Norsigian’s designated “photography expert,” landscape photography and vintage-camera repairman Alt, defends his role in ascribing negatives to Ansel Adams, while at the same time qualifying and partially recanting that attribution. 10 -Photocritic International - Planet of the Academics: An Interlude (1) (October 10, 2010). In which I respond to the attack on me by commenter Jeff Schneider, who has come to the defense of Patrick Alt while persuading himself that I’m an “academic,” therefore grant credence only to other “academics,” and consequently “do not have access” to understandings of photographic practice based on the experience of craft activity, understandings shared by “people who actually make images.” 14 -Photocritic International - Planet of the Academics: An Interlude (2) (October 14, 2010). In which I continue my analysis of the critique leveled at me by photographer Jeff Schneider, with emphasis on my relationship to, understanding of, and experience with the craft of photography. 17 - Photocritic International - Team Norsigian Accentuates the Negative (12) (October 17, 2010). In which I commence my analysis of the role that Team Norsigian’s “photography expert” Patrick Alt has played in this debacle to date. 21 - Photocritic International - Team Norsigian Accentuates the Negative (13) (October 21, 2010). In which I conclude my consideration of the role that Team Norsigian’s “photography expert” Patrick Alt has played in this debacle to date, including the contributions he could have made but didn’t, for reasons undisclosed. 24 - Photocritic International - Team Norsigian Accentuates the Negative (14) (October 24, 2010). In which I return to the subject of the questionable expertise of Team Norsigian’s roster of experts, specifically “photography expert” Patrick Alt and “art expert” Robert C. Moeller III. With a sidebar on the scientific practice of “saving the appearances,” including guest shots by Thomas Kuhn, Thomas Sowell, and William of Ockham.
9 - Article: The Bay Citizen, The Ansel Adams Debate: See For Yourself Compare large-scale images by Uncle Earl and his challengers,by Reyhan Harmanci. "In today's story on a further wrinkle in the ongoing saga of Rick Norsigian's garage sale purchases of a box of glass plate negatives-- see stories here and here -- which he believes to be the work of Ansel, The Bay Citizen examines some other possible photographers. Earl Brooks, A.C. Pillsbury and to a lesser extent, Harry Pidgeon, all for different reasons, make interesting candidates. Pillsbury is the best known photographer of the bunch. He worked for decades in Yosemite, operating his own studio until it burned down in 1927 and Ansel Adams took his place. His granddaughter, Melinda Pillsbury-Foster, is writing a book on her grandfather, and has been gathering information related to these "lost" Norsigian negatives online. Earl Brooks — a.k.a. Uncle Earl — first came to the world's attention after his Oakland-based niece, Marian Walton, saw a TV news report on the Norsigian affair and came forward with images she thinks her uncle took which very closely resemble three of the Norsigian images. His great-grandson, Cameron Horne, has also emerged with a treasure trove of Earl memorabilia, including a 670-page memoir and photo albums. In one of the albums, there is another photo match between one ostensibly taken by Brooks and a Norsigian negative." MORE 18 - Photocritic International - Team Norsigian Accentuates the Negative (17) (November 18, 2010). In which I contemplate the quality of the journalistic coverage of this story, and congratulate my colleagues Reyhan Harmanci, Culture Editor/Writer at the Bay Citizen, and Mike Boehm of the Los Angeles Times, for their substantial contributions thereto. Plus an apology to attorney Arnold Peter’s colleagues for assuming that they have any involvement in their legal partner’s professional activities. 22- Photocritic International - Team Norsigian Accentuates the Negative (18) (November 22, 2010). In which I introduce the Chicago team claiming that Arthur C. Pillsbury is the most likely author of the Norsigian negatives; discuss newly published material on Earl Brooks, another candidate; report on the progress of “The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust v. PRS Media Partners, LLC et al”; and urge Manny Medrano, Team Norsigian’s “evidence and burden-of-proof expert,” to come out of hiding and explain his position.
1 - Photocritic International - The CCP and I (December 1, 2010). In which I outline my long-term professional relationship with the Center for Creative Photography, and describe my first-hand experience there during a 1996-97 residency. 14 - Photocritic International - Adams Authentication and the CCP (1) (December 14, 2010). In which I begin my inquiry into exactly how and when, post-Y2K, the Center for Creative Photography got into the business of authenticating Ansel Adams material as a public service, and who’s responsible for that change in the CCP’s mission statement and policies. 22 - Photocritic International - Adams Authentication and the CCP (2) (December 22, 2010). In which I continue my inquiry into exactly how and when the Center for Creative Photography got into the business of authenticating Ansel Adams material as a public service, and who’s responsible for that change in the CCP’s mission statement and policies. With consideration of how this issue pertains to the new lawsuit against the Adams Trust charging slander and conspiracy filed by Team Norsigian. 27 - Photocritic International - Adams Authentication and the CCP (3) (December 27, 2010). In which I continue my inquiry into exactly how and when the Center for Creative Photography got into the business of authenticating Ansel Adams material. With consideration of how this disclosure got planted in a story by a cub reporter published by the obscure Arizona Daily Wildcat, and what questions she didn’t know to ask.