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What’s the best thing you ever found at a garage sale? Cowboy boots? A semi-decent mop? Fresno Painter Rick Norsigian haggled and got a box of old photographic plates for $45 about a decade ago. These plates turned out to be 80-year-old negatives of long-lost photos from some nobody named Ansel Adams. Now, after a lengthy investigation to prove their authenticity, Norsigian has learned they’re worth $200 million. (Beat that, Antiques Roadshow.)
Best of all, these photos include never-before-seen shots of Yosemite and other iconic locations from a poorly-documented period in Ansel Adams’ early career where much of his work was lost to a darkroom fire. CNN has an interview with Norsigian along with several images:
Norsigian kept the photos in a box under a pool table in his house. After a few years of joking with friends that they might be Ansel Adams prints, he did further research and realized he might be on to something. When years of forensic analysis eventually confirmed his suspicions, he “got a little weak” when he learned the photos could eventually net him $200 million over the next 25 years. Norsigian currently works for the Fresno school system.
I know plenty of people who would’ve already made a down payment on a yacht made of gold baby teeth after hearing that. But for now, Norsigian just wants the photos to go on a university and museum tour (starting at Fresno State University in October).
“I just hope everybody enjoys them,” he said.
Unbelievable generosity from a guy who just scored the art find of the century. I hope whoever sold those prints doesn’t read the news—otherwise, their head might explode.