Suit over purported Ansel Adams negatives settled

AP News
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Posted: Mar 15, 2011 5:23 PM
Suit over purported Ansel Adams negatives settled

A California man has agreed not to use Ansel Adams' name to sell posters and other merchandise connected to dozens of glass negatives he bought at a garage sale and claimed were the renowned nature photographer's work.

The agreement by Rick Norsigian is part of a settlement reached with the Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust, a group representing Adams. The parties announced the deal in a statement released Monday.

The Adams Trust sued Norsigian and consulting firm PRS Media Partners in August after a heated back and forth about the provenance of the negatives Norsigian bought at a Fresno, Calif., garage sale for $45.

A team of experts concluded they were Adams' early work, believed to have been destroyed in a 1937 fire at his Yosemite studio, Norsigian said. The Adams Trust disputed that.

Adams, who died in 1984, established the trust in 1976 to protect the integrity of his work and preserve his artistic legacy.

The suit asked the court to order the defendants to pay restitution of their profits from any sales.

Norsigian had set up a website to sell prints made from some of the negatives.

Maurice Pessah, a representative for Norsigian, declined to comment on whether any money exchanged hands as part of the settlement, which is confidential.

Frank Pizzurro, a spokesman for Latham & Watkins, the law firm representing the Adams Trust, also declined comment.

The parties have agreed to assume their respective legal costs, according to the statement announcing the settlement. Norsigian and PRS Media may also continue to sell negatives, prints, posters and other merchandise associated with the negatives subject to a disclaimer approved by the Adams Trust.

Norsigian is giving away commemorative posters that originally sold for $45 each for free until the end of March.

"I want to share this work with as many people as possible," he said in a statement. "I think that the public will appreciate these stunning images."