The 65 glass negatives bought for $45 a decade ago at a garage sale by Fresno, California, painter Rick Norsigian are not by Ansel Adams (d. 1984), according to the photographer's trust.
Norsigian's lawyer announced Tuesday that the images of places such as Yosemite and Carmel were long-lost works from Adams's early career. An appraiser valued them at $200 million.
Limited editions of Norsigian's discovery are being offered as $45 posters and $7,500 darkroom prints on his website.
“It’s an unfortunate fraud,’’ Bill Turnage, managing director of the Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust, told the AP. “It’s very distressing.’’
Turnage may possibly sue Norsigian for using a copyrighted name for commercial purposes.
The photographer's grandson, Matthew Adams, who runs the Ansel Adams Gallery in San Francisco, also says he is not convinced the plates are by his famous ancestor.
Norsigian assembled a group of lawyers, photographers, handwriting experts, a former curator and others to verify his discovery. Patrick Alt, a large-scale photographer, has said that he detected fire damage on Norsigian's find and is certain the negatives were rescued from the 1937 fire which destroyed 5,000 works by Adams.
Officials from the Smithsonian, Getty Center, and other institutions had refused to authenticate the images.