In his search for antiques at a garage sale, Rick Norsigian bought two small boxes ten years ago that cost him $45-price haggled down from $70 -are now estimated to be worth at least $200 million.
The boxes contained 65 glass negatives owned and created by Ansel Adams, the Father of American Photography in the early period of his career.
It was believed that these negatives were destroyed more than seven decades ago in a dark room fire that ruined 5,000 plates.
According to David W. Streets, a Beverly Hills art appraiser,”It truly is a missing link of Ansel Adams and history and his career.”
“The photographs apparently were taken between 1919 and the early 1930s, well before Adams — who is known as the father of American photography — became nationally recognized in the 1940s, Streets said.
“This is going to show the world the evolution of his eye, of his talent, of his skill, his gift, but also his legacy,” Streets said. “And it’s a portion that we thought had been destroyed in the studio fire.”
The garage sale proprietor where Norsigian bought the pieces, originally bought the boxes in 1940’sin a warehouse salvage in Los Angeles.
Patrick Alt, expert in photography had helped confirmed the authenticity of the negatives found infers that Adams may have carried those pieces for his photography class during 1940’s.
“It is my belief that he brought these negatives with him for teaching purposes and to show students how to not let their negatives be engulfed in a fire,” Alt said.
“I think this clearly explains the range of work in these negatives, from very early pictorialist boat pictures, to images not as successful, to images of the highest level of his work during this time period.”
According to CNN report, the plates were wrapped individually in newspaper inside a nearly ruined manila envelopes. Notations on each envelope appeared to have been made by Virginia Adams, the photographer’s wife, according to handwriting experts Michael Nattenberg and Marcel Matley. Both compared them to samples provided by the Adams’ grandson.
While most of the negatives appear never to have been printed, several are nearly identical to well-known Adams prints, the experts said.
Meteorologist George Wright studied clouds and snow cover in a Norsigian negative to conclude that it was taken at about the same time as a known Adams photo of a Yosemite tree.
“The fact that these locations were well-known to Adams, and visited by him, further supports the proposition that all of the images in the collection were most probably created by Adams,” said art expert Robert Moeller.
Moeller said that after six months of study, he concluded “with a high degree of probability, that the images under consideration were produced by Ansel Adams.
“Silver tarnishing on the negatives also helped date the plates to around the 1920s, Alt said.
“I have sent people to prison for the rest of their lives for far less evidence than I have seen in this case,” said evidence and burden of proof expert Manny Medrano, who was hired by Norsigian to help authenticate them. “In my view, those photographs were done by Ansel Adams.”
Norsigian, after a decade of keeping an unlikely piece of wealth is now ready to cash in by turning over the pieces to museums and collectors
“I have estimated that his $45 investment easily could be worth up to $200 million,” Streets said.
And speaking of garage sales and storage boxes, did you know that cheaper moving boxes are found online ?