Courts & Crime

Ansel Adams trust sues collector who says he has negatives

A group representing Ansel Adams is suing to stop a Fresno man from selling prints and posters made from garage-sale negatives that the man says are the work of the famed photographer.

The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust claims the work in the photographs is not that of the iconic Ansel Adams, but possibly Fresno photographer Earl Brooks.

The 28-page suit said that the man who bought the negatives, Rick Norsigian, is violating the trust's trademark and "damaging Ansel's reputation and the integrity of his work," said William Turnage, managing trustee of the Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust. "They are using Ansel's name illegally, so even if they were Ansel's photographs, they aren't allowed to do it."

Norsigian was named in the lawsuit along with the consulting firm that assisted him, PRS Media Partners. The lawsuit was filed Monday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

Norsigian's attorney, Arnold Peter, said in a statement that the lawsuit is without merit and designed to harass his client. "We are disappointed that the Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust has decided to resort to the courts in order to resolve what, in our view, is a debate that should be resolved by art and forensic experts," he said.

Turnage said people who worked with Adams say the negatives are not his work.

"I have been working with Ansel Adams' material for 37 years and while these are good photographs, they are not Ansel's," Turnage said.

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