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Sunday, June 16, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Ansel Adams Discovery Claims Run Out of Fuel

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A two-year legal battle over the supposed "lost negatives" of Ansel Adams came to end with the 9th Circuit dismissing counterclaims against the University of Arizona.

Art collector Rick Norsigian set the wheels of this case in motion in 2010 when he began selling prints and posters created from 65 photo negatives that he labeled "Ansel Adams Lost Negatives."

Norsigian claims to have found the negatives 10 years earlier at a garage sale and pronounced as the work of Ansel Adams, but the Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust insists that they are the work of talented amateur Earl Brooks.

After the trust sued Norsigian and PRS Media Partners, Norsigian asserted a counterclaim against the University of Arizona.

He said that the school had an obligation to remain neutral but had nevertheless announced on its website that Norsigian's prints were not the work of Adams.

In 2011 Chief U.S. District Judge James Ware concluded that the university has sovereign immunity under the 11th Amendment, pursuant to the 1981 decision Rutledge v. Arizona Board of Regents.

A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit affirmed Friday in an unpublished decision.

PRS Media also cannot look into the university's relationship with the Center for Creative Photography, which Adams helped to establish in 1975, according to the ruling.

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