An antique shopper hits the jackpot with glass negatives traced to famed photographer Ansel Adams

By Dahvi Shira
Updated July 27, 2010 03:55 PM
Credit: Courtesy Rick Norsigian

Antique shopper Rick Norsigian has entered the pickers Hall of Fame.

The Fresno, Calif., painter paid $45 for 65 glass negatives at a garage sale 10 years ago – and now has expert confirmation the images were created by famed photographer Ansel Adams.

Current value: at least $200 million.

It’s not known how the nature images on the glass plate negatives made their way from Adams’s collection 70 years ago to a Southern California garage sale in 2000. But the man who sold the lucky finds to Norsigian said he bought them in the 1940s at a warehouse salvage in Los Angeles.

Art appraisal expert David W. Streets believes these photos were taken between 1919 and the early 1930s, long before Adams became nationally recognized in the 1940s, according to CNN.

“This is going to show the world evolution of his eye, of his talent, of his skill, his gift, but also his legacy,” Streets says. “And it’s a portion that we thought had been destroyed in the studio fire.”

Norsigian, who has spent the last decade trying to prove the worth of his discovery, is now ready to cash in by selling original prints of the photographs to museums and collectors.