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July 27, 2009
LOS ANGELES -- Prints that a California man purchased at a garage sale for $45 are the real thing!

Experts say after three years of research, they have determined the glass negatives are authentic works by Ansel Adams and are worth an estimated $200 million dollars.

Richard Norsigian bought the 60 glass negatives nearly ten years ago from a man in Fresno. He says he talked the man down from $60.

The negatives all date back to the 1920s and 1930s and were each kept inside manila envelopes that were deteriorating in age.

Norsigian had the negatives scanned and developed into prints, which friends and family said resembled the work of famed photographer Ansel Adams.

Adams, known for his black and white photos of Yosemite National Park, also used the glass negative format.

Norsigian began researching Adams to determine if the prints actually were authentic.

He enlisted the help of Los Angeles-area attorney Arnold Peter, who gathered a group of forensic experts.

A handwriting expert confirmed that the writing on the envelopes was that of Virginia Adams -- Ansel's wife.

"That was a turning point," Norsigian said.

A meteorological expert compared Norsigian's negatives to published Adams photographs taken at the same California location. Norsigian says the expert determined the photos were taken on the same day after looking at the cloud formation, the snow on the mountains and the shadow cast by a tree.

Norsigian's attorney says the negatives are worth millions. A Beverly HIlls appraiser says the negatives are worth at least $200 million.

Based on what I've seen, there is the notion that someone other than Ansel Adams took any of these photographs is just not reasonable or rational," Peter said.

The glass negatives were thought to have been destroyed in a fire. Art experts say they are a major missing link in Adams' career.

The negatives go on display Tuesday.

Adams is best known for his striking black-and-white photographs, mainly landscapes, of the American West. He died in 1984 at 82.

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