Negatives Bought at Garage Sale Could Fetch Millions, Ansel Adams Heirs Unsure

Adams Garage Sale.jpg

Rick Norsigian is a painter and a fan of antiques.  He's also very lucky, and possibly soon to be very rich.

At a garage sale ten years ago, Norsigian paid $45 for some glass negatives of Yosemite National Park.  As it turns out, these 65 negatives may be a missing link in the career of Ansel Adams.

Adams, a world famous nature photographer, suffered the loss of 5,000 of his negatives thanks to a darkroom fire in 1937, but the negatives Norsigian has appear to date between 1920 and 1930.  That makes them very rare indeed, since they're a part of the few remaining negatives from that era.

According to experts, the negatives Norsigian has could end up selling for as much as $200 million.  That's over 400,000 times the price originally paid - not a bad return on investment at all.

Norsigian hasn't specified whether he'll be auctioning off the negatives or not, but he is selling limited edition prints of each picture.  Digital prints run $1,500 while silver gelatin dark room prints sell for $7,500.

There's some debate over the authenticity of the negatives, but the general consensus is that they're legitimate. Ansel Adams grandson, Matthew Adams, is wary about the authenticity of the negatives and is in complete disagreement at the $200 million dollar appraisal.  Adams, who took a look at the plates last year, wants carbon dating testing before declaring that the plates are the work of his grandfather.