One of the big stories in the photo world last year was when a set of glass negatives purchased for $45 at a garage sale were found to potentially be Ansel Adams photos worth an estimated $200 million. Unfortunately for the finder, the photos were most likely not Ansel’s, and ensuing lawsuits prevented him from making a huge profit from the find. Real estate agent John Maloof, on the other hand, could end up making a fortune from his discovery of previously-unknown nanny and street photographer Vivian Maier.
After discovering purchasing a box of 30,000 negatives at an auction for $400, Maloof was surprised by the quality of the work and went on to collect 100,000 images by Maier. After the story went viral, Maloof is now publishing a collection of the photographs as a 128-page photobook titled “Vivian Maier: Street Photographer” (to be released in November 2011). What’s more, he will also be producing a feature length documentary film titled “Finding Vivian Maier” after raising over $100,000 dollars for the project through Kickstarter.
The next time you’re at a garage sale and come across a box of negatives, take a long hard look at the photographs. You might be holding the photographic-equivalent of a winning lottery ticket!
P.S. Here’s an interesting interview Lomography did with John Maloof.