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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Treasures Discovered in Unexpected Places

What comes to mind when you think of garage sales? Do the words dirty, old, and trash come to mind? How about ugly and cheap? The image of my grandma’s outdated ceramic lamp with a bright yellow sticker labeled $1.00 crosses my mind. What about a price tag of $200 million? That’s the incredible profit a lucky Californian may be making from a box of supposed "junk" from a garage sale. It was 10 years ago when Fresno, California native, Rick Norsigian, stopped by a garage sale and picked up two boxes full of negatives for $45 bucks. The negatives are now being attributed to the famed photographer Ansel Adams, whose photographs of the American West made him one of the most recognized and famed photographers of all time.

Experts believed the negatives were destroyed in a fire in 1937 at Adams’s studio, however, after much research it is now believed that the plates survived and can be attributed to the artist. This treasure, “is going to show the world the evolution of his eye, of his talent, of his skill, his gift, but also his legacy,” said David W. Streets, the appraiser and art dealer who is hosting the unveiling of the photographs.

The most incredible part? The plates, which were originally purchased for $45 are now reportedly worth $200 million! That’s enough to get everyone rethinking a visit to their local garage-sale and flea market circuit. This isn’t the first time art treasures have been salvaged from the trash. In fact, a work by an iconic Spanish artist was found in an attic in the UK in 2008 that scored $200,000 at auction. Additionally, a genuine Da Vinci painting was found hidden behind another painting. And in 2007, a man bought an old parchment from a Tennessee thrift store for $2.48 that turned out to be an original version of the Declaration of Independence! True, these stories of hidden treasure are few and far between, but the fact is, many people have something worth more than they think. It’s a stretch, but you may be the next Rick Norsigian and score it big!

The role of an appraiser or art expert was significant in all these cases. In the case of Mr. Norsigian, expert Manny Medrano was hired to authenticate the negatives. Michael Nattenberg and Marcel Matley were called in to study the handwriting on the deteriorating envelopes the negatives were found in. Art Appraiser, David W. Streets stated that, "It truly is a missing link of Ansel Adams and history and his career." The photographs will be unveiled at his Beverly Hills gallery in the upcoming week.

With the help of these professionals, what was once garage sale "junk" is now an astonishing investment for the lucky Norsigian.

MIR Appraisal Services, Inc. employs a team of researchers and appraisers who are dedicated to our clients’ needs. Whether you want to know more about the "hidden treasures" in your home, or are seeking a detailed report for insurance purposes, please visit our website at to learn more about our services.

Written and researched by Taylor Maatman

MIR Appraisal Services, Inc.

307 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 308

Chicago, IL 60601

Phone: (312) 814-8510

Works cited:

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    Chicago, Illinois, United States
    Welcome to our blog site! MIR Appraisal Services, Inc. is a fine art and personal property appraisal company dedicated to serving clients throughout the United States and abroad since our incorporation in Chicago in 1994. We specialize in the multi-faceted field of appraising fine art, jewelry, antiques, and decorative items. We also provide professional fine art restoration and conservation treatment for various media, including but not limited to, artworks on canvas, board, masonite, and paper. We offer professional and precise appraisal services carried out by our team of accredited appraisers for the purposes of insurance coverage and claims, charitable donations, estate planning and probate, equitable distribution and fair-market value. We started our art commentary blog site as a venue for colleagues and fellow art enthusiasts to share their experiences within the art community.