At first glance you might think Rick Norsigian is living his own private version of Antiques Roadshow. Only, his experience doesn’t fit neatly into an hour-long program. Far from it.
This 63-year-old man from Fresno, Calif., a painter for the board of education, likes to kick around at garage sales in his spare time. Back in 2000, he bought a box of glass negatives at one of those sales and became curious when a friend suggested the images resembled the photographs of Ansel Adams. Since then Norsigian has been on a nine-year mission to find out if they are indeed the work of one of the world’s most famous photographers.
“[Ansel Adams] lost over a third of his work [to a fire in 1937], the bulk of his early work,” Norsigian said. “That makes this that much more important.”
While this all sounds like a great big “halleluiah, let’s have a party” moment for Norsigian, it has not been that way at all. Just ask his lawyer, Arnold P. Peter of Peter, Rubin & Simon, LLP.
“We approached the Ansel Adams family and much to our surprise, they seemed disinterested,” Peter said. “We were disappointed but feel very fortunate to be able to prove to a reasonable degree of certainty that Rick Norsigian has discovered 60 glass negatives that have never been seen by the public. Ansel Adams is one of the world's greatest and most renowned photographers and so we can appreciate their apprehension and their right to protect and control the works and images created by this American treasure. According to several experts across many disciplines, they do believe that these negatives are indeed, without question, the works of Ansel Adams. And so do we.”
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