Blue Earth
Glazer's Camera

Ansel Adams Trust Hit with Slander Countersuit


The debate over the validity of the "lost Ansel Adams images" amplified this past month as Rick Norsigian, the California man who reportedly found the box of lost glass plates, uncovered potentially incriminating e-mails and filed a lawsuit against the Ansel Adams Trust and its managing director, William Turnage.

On Dec. 15, 2010, Norsigian countersued Turnage and the Ansel Adams Trust for slander, unfair competition, trade libel and conspiracy. As they began to investigate the suit, Norsigian's lawyers used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain records from the University of Arizona's Center for Creative Photography (CCP), the organization in possession of Adams' entire collection of images and negatives. As a state-run entity, the CCP was obligated to cooperate with the request.

In the e-mail records, Norsigian's lawyer found correspondence with Turnage in which the trust director allegedly threatened to revoke his financial support of the CCP if they did not weigh in on the lost-images debate.

Turnage's indignation was in response to an e-mail from the CCP stating that they wouldn't allow their archivists to talk to the press regarding the found plates because the organization had signed a nondisclosure agreement with Norsigian.

Turnage has said that he has since apologized and that he and the CCP continue to have a positive working relationship, but refused to comment on Norsigian's countersuit.

The initial lawsuit and Norsigian's countersuit are both scheduled to go to trial in May 2012.