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Controversy rages over possible Ansel Adams photographs

 11th Aug 2010

A California collector who bought a stack of negatives from a garage sale for $45 a decade ago could have stumbled upon photos by famous American landscape photographer Ansel Adams.

The haul, which has been authenticated by experts as being the real deal, could be worth £200 million, but the family of Ansel Adams remain unconvinced that the prints are his.

Adams, who died in 1984, was one of the foremost nature photographers of his era, known for his images of the American west, especially Yosemite National Park.


Collector Rick Norsigian bought the 65 glass negatives in Fresno, California while hunting for an antique chair at a garage sale. His lawyer claims that experts have authenticated the negatives, studying handwriting they say is the work of Adam's wife, Virginia, and drafting in experts to examine the cloud formations in the pictures to establish whether they are similar to ones that appear in other landscape shots by Adams.

But, Matthew, Adams's grandson, who runs the Ansel Adams Gallery, says that he thinks the photos are fakes - saying that the envelopes containing the pictures show out of character misspellings of famous sites in Yosemite national park where Adams took many of his shots. “There is no real hard evidence, I'm sceptical,” he said.

In the midst of the controversy, the photos will go on a tour of universities and museums, starting in October at Fresno State University.