Ansel Adams' Family Sues Museum Over Prints

Fresno Met trying to sell prints to pay off debt
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 5, 2010 1:02 PM CST
Ansel Adams' Family Sues Museum Over Prints
Ansel Adam's "Half Dome, Merced River, Winter, Yosemite Valley, California," one of the six disputed photos.   (

Ansel Adams’ family is suing the bankrupt Fresno Metropolitan Museum over its attempts to auction off six prints the photographer donated before he died. The museum closed in January and is now furiously trying to sell off artwork to pay off its estimated $4 million in debt. But Adams' relatives say the “declaration of gift” the family signed when it handed over the prints prohibited such sales.

A sentence saying the museum would be “at liberty to use or dispose of the property at their discretion” was struck from the declaration, they note. And the photographer's relatives aren't the only donors outraged by the liquidation sale, notes the Fresno Bee. “Legally and ethically, art shouldn’t be used to pay off debts,” said the granddaughter of a patron who donated hundreds of 19th-century snuff bottles. (More Ansel Adams stories.)

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