Garage Sale Find Could Be Worth $200 Million : Planet Money Ten years ago, a California construction worker made a $45 garage sale purchase. Today, his find could be worth $200 million.
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Garage Sale Find Could Be Worth $200 Million

Rick Norsigian of Fresno, Calif. bought a set of glass negatives for $45 at a garage sale a decade ago. Today, his find may be worth $200 million. Nick Ut/AP hide caption

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Nick Ut/AP

A set of glass negatives purchased a decade ago at a garage sale may have gained $199,999,955 in value yesterday. A team of experts on Tuesday identified the set as the work of the iconic American photographer Ansel Adams, the WSJ reports.

But the folks at Adams' publishing rights trust aren't buying it.

"Do you have any idea how many people were photographing Yosemite in the 1920s and 1930s? Millions! It could be anyone," the managing trustee told the WSJ.

The controversy over whether the negatives may be millions of dollars worth of art, or just a dusty pile of glass shards, calls back a question we investigated last month: How do you decide how much a work of art is worth?

For Rick Norsigian, the man who originally bought the negatives for $45, the set is at least worth the cost of a lawyer, a photographer, an art adviser and a handwriting analyst -- among those who he hired to investigate the possible authenticity of his find.

"Anytime you have a discovery of this magnitude there are going to be skeptics," Norsigian's lawyer told a Canadian news station.

Since discovering the negatives' potential value, Norsigian has moved them from under his pool table to a vault in Fresno, Calif.