Ansel Adams photos found at garage sale worth $200 million

Fascinating story from CNN. Note to self: STOP at more Garage Sales!

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.

“It is my belief that he brought these negatives with him for teaching purposes and to show students how to not let their negatives be engulfed in a fire,” Alt said. “I think this clearly explains the range of work in these negatives, from very early pictorialist boat pictures, to images not as successful, to images of the highest level of his work during this time period.”

Alt said it is impossible to know why Adams would store them in Pasadena and never reclaim them.
The plates were individually wrapped in newspaper inside deteriorating manila envelopes. Notations on each envelope appeared to have been made by Virginia Adams, the photographer’s wife, according to handwriting experts Michael Nattenberg and Marcel Matley. They compared them to samples provided by the Adams’ grandson.

While most of the negatives appear never to have been printed, several are nearly identical to well-known Adams prints, the experts said.

Meteorologist George Wright studied clouds and snow cover in a Norsigian negative to conclude that it was taken at about the same time as a known Adams photo of a Yosemite tree.

In addition to Yosemite — the California wilderness that Adams helped conserve — the negatives depict California’s Carmel Mission, views of a rocky point in Carmel, San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf, a sailing yacht at sea and an image of sand dunes.

“The fact that these locations were well-known to Adams, and visited by him, further supports the proposition that all of the images in the collection were most probably created by Adams,” said art expert Robert Moeller.

Moeller said that after six months of study, he concluded “with a high degree of probability, that the images under consideration were produced by Ansel Adams.

Silver tarnishing on the negatives also helped date the plates to around the 1920s, Alt said.

“I have sent people to prison for the rest of their lives for far less evidence than I have seen in this case,” said evidence and burden of proof expert Manny Medrano, who was hired by Norsigian to help authenticate them. “In my view, those photographs were done by Ansel Adams.”

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.

“I have estimated that his $45 investment easily could be worth up to $200 million,” Streets said.

~by Alan Duke, CNN

Photo by Ansel Adams

All You Need Is Love

I suggest that before you can truly succeed, you must love: It’s the greatest power.

How do people want to be treated? With love, of course.

Robert Frost said, “Love is the irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.”

John Lennon said, “We’ve got this gift of love, but love is like a precious plant. You can’t just accept it and leave it in the cupboard or just think it’s going to get on by itself. You’ve got to keep watering it. You’ve got to really look after it and water it.”

In other words, how better to create, nurture and sustain relationships than through love.

There are, however, few four letter words in the English language that are more ill-used or beg for definition than the word “love.”

In the mouth and mind of Jesus, the word love means “an act of unselfish regard for the other,” or an act “that wills another’s good.”

Both the philosopher Aristotle and the theologian St. Thomas Aquinas called that kind of love “benevolentia,” from which we have our word “benevolence.”

And the theologian/philosopher Joseph Fletcher defined love as “good will at work in partnership with reason.”

Rabbi Jeffrey K. Salkin, author of “Being God’s Partner: How to Find the Hidden Link between Spirituality and Your Work”, tells a story about the boss of the moving crew that moved his family from Pennsylvania to New York:

“It’s like this, Rabbi: Moving is hard for most people. It’s a very vulnerable time for them. People are nervous about going to a new community, and about having strangers pack their most precious possessions. I think God wants me to treat my customers with love and make them feel that I care about their things and their life. God wants me to help make their changes go smoothly. If I can be happy about it, maybe they can be, too.”

People want to be treated with love.

Let love be the sum and total of all the little things we do, from the way we answer the phone to the way we write a letter (If you are still writing letters!) or write an email, from the way we make a presentation to the way we fulfill an order, from the way we act on Twitter or on Facebook.

Let love be a way of doing business; not a one-time event, but a process of creating a customer environment of information, assurance, comfort and credibility.

Let love be your strategic weapon and it will help to differentiate you and your company in the marketplace.

I believe businesses have never faced a brighter horizon than what is ahead tomorrow. The opportunity for companies that can discern and satisfy the desires of tomorrow’s customers is enormous.

All you need is love.

New Place and New Project

A wonderful note arrived today from my friend, Mylène Dressler. She writes:

“Hope this finds you well and not too warm?  We’ve been sweltering out here in the desert.

“I think I told you earlier this summer I’ve been dreaming up a project for us to work on together, if you’d be interested.  Let me tell you what I’ve been thinking so you can see if it grabs you.  I am imagining a coffee table book that would also work well as an e-book and on iPadWorking title, “American Mirror.”  On one side of the book/screen would be my words (taken from the many stories I’ve been collecting on American Stories NOW); on the other side would be one of your images–the words mirroring the image and vice versa (this “mirroring” could take any form we want; it would not have to be a direct representation of the story).  We would collaborate on choosing the stories and images; we would use materials we’ve already written/shot and possibly commit to gathering new ones over, say, the next six months or a year; we might try to get together (I’d love to come out your way, and have no stories from your part of the world) to work on a few new stories/images together; and when we have a nice collection in the order that we want it, I would take it to my agent as a proposal and see if we could find a home for it. I’ll tell you up front I have zero experience with non-fiction books and how hard or easy they might be to place (all my experience is with fiction); but I think if we approached it as a labor of love, knowing that we will create something beautiful in the end, we’ll be at peace with whatever happens, small press or large.

“What do you think?  If this sounds like something you’d delight in as I would, send back your thoughts and we’ll start chatting.  I think it could work beautifully not only as a traditional book but with modern technology.

“Hope to hear from you!”


Ah, yes. Something beautiful–to be sure. How exciting!