Ansel Adams Trust and ‘The Lost Negatives’ Buyer Come to a Settlement

Undoubtedly the photography story of 2010 has finally come to an end. You likely recall either reading our reporting on the matter or catching it elsewhere, the story of retired building painter Rick Norsigian trying to convince the world that he’d stumbled across a cache of negatives by the late Ansel Adams, having the collection valued of upwards of $200 million in the process, and ultimately catching the ire of the Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust in the process. The Trust set to work last August both trying to discredit the authenticity of the found or fraudulently-made photos while taking Norsigian to court in an attempt to stop him from using Adams’ name, particularly when it came to his selling of prints for nearly $1000/each on his site “The Lost Negatives.” Now, seven months after the complaint was filed, the two parties have come to a settlement. Though the specific details of the agreement haven’t been released, according to what’s been said, it appears that Norsigian might have gotten the better end of the bargain: he can keep selling his prints, but he can’t use Adams’ name anywhere. The Trust will continue to deny that the negatives are real, but without shutting him down completely, it sounds that Norsigian gets to keep at least an air of mysterious, possible authenticity (“what if they really are Adams’ lost photos?”). Here’s some from the official statement:

The parties have now agreed to resolve these disputes and have entered into a confidential settlement agreement in which each side assumes its own costs and fees in connection with the claims. Under said agreement, Rick Norsigian and PRS Media agree to not use Ansel Adams’ name or likeness or the Ansel Adams trademark in connection with the sales, promotion or advertisement of negatives, prints, posters, or other merchandise based on negatives. Norsigian and PRS Media may continue to sell negatives, prints, posters and other merchandise associated with negatives, subject to a disclaimer approved by The Trust, and provided they do so in a manner consistent with state and federal law. Further, both parties have agreed not to make any defamatory statements about the other or unlawfully interfere in each other’s businesses. As a result of the agreement, the parties today submitted a joint request asking the Court to dismiss the complaint and counterclaim without prejudice.