Debate Rages Over Validity of Ansel Adams Photos
The box bought a decade ago contained 65 glass negatives that were supposedly created by photographer Ansel Adams in the early years of his career. The negatives were thought to have been destroyed in a 1937 darkroom fire along with as many as 5,000 other plates.
However, the folks at Adams' publishing rights trust aren't buying it.
"Do you have any idea how many people were photographing Yosemite in the 1920s and 1930s? Millions! It could be anyone," the managing trustee told the WSJ.
Norsigian's lawyer said handwriting experts had identified writing on the negative sleeves as that of Adams's wife, Virginia. But Ansel Adam's grandson, Matthew Adams, said there were inconsistencies in the handwriting and a lot of misspelled Yosemite place names.
''She grew up in Yosemite. She was an intelligent, well-read woman. I find it hard to believe she would misspell those names,'' he said.
''It's an unfortunate fraud,'' said Bill Turnage, managing director of the Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust. He said he was consulting lawyers about suing Mr Norsigian for using a copyrighted name for commercial purposes.
In addition to the handwriting issue, Matthew Adams said in a statement he didn’t understand how the negatives could have possibly fallen out of the hands of his grandfather, who he said was very careful with the storage of his work. Furthermore, he said the negatives did not carry the photographer’s typical numbering system.
The $200 million that Mr Norsigian could make from authenticated photographs includes sales and licensing deals.
He has stored the negatives in a vault, and the photographs will go on display at Fresno State University in October.