Heirs of Ansel Adams Challenge Discovery of Negatives Worth $200 Million


Well, are they or aren’t they? Rick Norsigian bought photo negatives at a California garage sale and years later found they may have been shot by famous landscape photographer Ansel Adams. Now he’s stuck in art lottery limbo — Adams’ grandson and art experts have come forward disputing that the negatives were shot by Adams and doubting the validity of the $200 million ballpark value.

“There is no real hard evidence,” Matthew Adams, grandson of Ansel Adams said to the AP. “I suggested carbon dating of the charring and the envelopes.”

Andy Grundberg, chair of photography at The Corcoran College of Art and Design and former director of the Ansel Adams Center for Photography, spoke to NPR about the photo-historical discovery. “I think it’ll be worth $200 million in about 200 years, perhaps,” he said. He also made the point that the value of Adams’ photographs was largely added after the fact: “Like every photographer, he spent time in the dark room adjusting the way the negative values were onto the print. So the final print, it’s not a figment of his imagination, but it’s a device. It’s a reflection of how he wants that picture to look.”

Whether the negatives were shot by Adams or not, Norsigian told ArtInfo he has no plans to sell the collection. He is, however, taking them to the bank, having teamed up with a Beverly Hills gallery to sell prints and posters from his possibly very valuable garage sale find.