Ansel Adams photos found at garage sale worth $200 million





Rick Norsigian's hobby of picking through piles of unwanted items at garage sales in search of antiques has paid off for the Fresno, California, painter.

Two small boxes he bought 10 years ago for $45 -- negotiated down from $70 -- are now estimated to be worth at least $200 million, according to a Beverly Hills art appraiser.

Those boxes contained 65 glass negatives created by famed nature photographer Ansel Adams in the early period of his career. Experts believed the negatives were destroyed in a 1937 darkroom fire that destroyed 5,000 plates.

"It truly is a missing link of Ansel Adams and history and his career," said David W. Streets, the appraiser and art dealer who is hosting an unveiling of the photographs at his Beverly Hills, California, gallery Tuesday.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."
How these 6.5 x 8.5 inch glass plate negatives of famous Yosemite landscapes and San Francisco landmarks -- some of them with fire damage -- made their way from Adams collection 70 years ago to a Southern California garage sale in 2000 can only be guessed.

The person who sold them to Norsigian at the garage sale told him he bought them in the 1940s at a warehouse salvage in Los Angeles.

Photography expert Patrick Alt, who helped confirm the authenticity of the negatives, suspects Adams carried them to use in a photography class he was teaching in Pasadena, California, in the early 1940s....

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