A former museum curator paid by Rick Norsigian to authenticate a trove of glass plate negatives as the work of Ansel Adams has recanted, according to a report in today’s New York Times.

“I made a mistake,” Robert C. Moeller III told the Times.

Moeller, an expert on European decorative arts and sculpture, had been paid $1,000 for six months to evaluate 61 glass plate negatives that Norsigian bought at a garage sale 10 years ago for $45. Norsigian and his lawyer announced in July that Moeller and several other hired experts had concluded that the negatives were lost works of Adams. Norsigian has valued the negatives at $200 million.

But a California woman stepped forward after the announcement, claiming the images were shot by her uncle, Earl Brooks. Moeller compared the negatives to prints by Brooks and concluded that several were from “the same camera, same time, same man.” At that point, he said, his original report attributing the images to Adams had to change.

Moeller’s change of mind complicates Norsigian’s plans to sell the images as the work of Ansel Adams. The Ansel Adams Publishing Trust has refuted Norsigian’s claim that Adams made the negatives, and has sued for trademark and other violations to prevent Norsigian from using Adams’ name to market the images.

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