Support for the Norsigian negatives being the work of Ansel Adams is rapidly waning this week. The Bay Citizen reported that one of Norsigian’s team of experts has backed off his claims of authenticity. He now says he made a mistake and the Los Angeles Times reports that Norsigian has disclaimer on the prints he is selling via the web:
Robert C. Moeller III, a former curator at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and one of the experts hired by Rick Norsigian, a California man, to evaluate his find, said that after further review he had decided that at least some of the images Mr. Norsigian purchased were taken by an unheralded photographer, Earl Brooks.
“I made a mistake,” said Mr. Moeller, a former curator of European decorative arts and sculpture at the Boston museum, who was part of the team that in July announced the discovery of what it called Adams’s “lost negatives.” […] “The lowest level of quality of Ansel Adams is well above the lowest level of Norsigian’s images,” Mr. Moeller said. So why did he issue such a definitive statement that Adams was the photographer? “Maybe I kind of wanted them to be Ansel Adams,” he said.
Norsigian, meanwhile, has stamped the equivalent of a buyer-beware sign on the pictures of Yosemite and coastal California he’s trying to sell via his website, ricknorsigian.com. Before customers can order prints priced at $7,500 for a hand-developed one or $1,500 for a digital copy, they must agree to the terms of a legal disclaimer in which Norsigian says he is not legally liable if the prints turn out not to have been taken by Adams.
“The entire risk as to the quality and authenticity of the print … is with the buyer,” the disclaimer says.
Jerome Adamson, a Los Angeles art dealer who is board president of the Art Dealers Assn. of California, began to laugh as the disclaimer was read to him Tuesday. The commonly accepted practice, he said, is for dealers to sell art they have authenticated and stand behind with a money-back guarantee. If it’s later proved that another artist created the work, Adamson said, the buyer would get a full refund.
A Turnaround in Ansel Adams Photo Dispute (Bay Citizen/New York Times)
Ansel Adams archive enters the fray (Los Angeles Times)