Cheers, Rick Norsigian, you are the luckiest man alive.
The Associated Press (and others) just reported that after a six-month examination, a team of experts has authenticated a batch of found Ansel Adams negatives. The large glass negatives, purchased for $45 by Norsigian at a yard sale, are valued at $200 million; until now, they were "believed to have been destroyed in a 1937 fire at his Yosemite National Park studio," says the AP.
According to attorney Arnold Peter, an exhibition of photos is in the works, as well as a documentary about the discovery and authentication of the negatives. Lesson learned: buy lots of used "crap." You never know what might some day be worth something.
Update at 6:19pm ET — Adams' grandson Matthew Adams is disputing the authenticity of these negatives. In 2009, he was provided access to evidence compiled by the Norsigian team, which he deemed inadequate; no further evidence has been provided at this point, he says, and his comments below have thus not been updated. In an official statement re-issued July 24, he states:
The evidence gathered and presented does not meet the burden of proof of 'certainty.' No one piece of evidence can stand up to questioning ... All of the evidence presented is circumstantial at best, and hopeful supposition in most instances.
The number of $200,000,000 that has been suggested by the Norsigian Team is ludicrous. It should be remembered that while there is a good deal of creativity and purpose in the negative, the print is the expression of the artist's intent. It is the print that carries the value.