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David W. Streets . . . He’s Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!

What with the disclosure of his record as a felon convicted of assorted scams, and the almost complete discreditation of Team Norsigian’s purported “authentication” — issued under his imprimatur — of Rick Norsigian’s yard-sale glass-plate negatives as works by Ansel Adams, I’d assumed, reasonably, that Beverly Hills gallerist David W. Streets had opted (wisely) to drop out of sight, and that we’d heard the last of him, at least insofar as his inexpert relationship to photography goes.

After all, without the following:

  • Streets’s endorsement of the questionable attribution of these negatives to Ansel Adams,
  • his ridiculous but newsworthy estimate of the value thereof at USD $200 million,
  • his leadership in the aggressive, ongoing marketing of “authenticated” prints therefrom,
  • and his agreement to sponsor the publication of THE LOST NEGATIVES: 65 glass negatives created by Ansel Adams (subtitled “FINAL REPORT OF INVESTIGATIVE TEAM”) almost a year ago bearing the name and address of Streets and his Beverly Hills Gallery

Norsigian "Lost Negatives of Ansel Adams" Report cover. . . the entire Norsigian-Adams comedy of errors that’s made headlines internationally — tracked in excruciating detail here at Photocritic International — would have played out on a much smaller stage, if at all. “Never pushy or hard sell,” Streets describes himself on his website’s main page. Be that as it may, the very spotlight that he worked so hard to turn onto these negatives, and the product line that he helped to flog so energetically (before Norsigian opted to sell these exclusively through his own site), led to the press inquiries that brought his criminal past to public attention. Hubris, as usual, evoked nemesis.

Yet he’s returned, apparently undaunted, for not just the second but the third act in his American life. To begin with, his somewhat revamped website now actually quotes from and links to Photocritic International. Not to my report on his felonious past, nor my assessment of his dubious credentials as an appraiser, but, on his site’s “News” page, to my commentary on the behavior of the Ansel Adams Publishing Right Trust and the Center for Creative Photography in relation to this situation.

David W. Street in JFK chair

David W. Streets in JFK chair

As if none of that examination of his personal and professional past had preceded my discourse on the Adams Trust and the CCP, Streets writes, “In August 2010, David W. Streets hosted the official introduction of this find by Rick Norsigian at his gallery. As ‘THE LOST NEGATIVES’ were brought into the eyes of the public, the head of the Ansel Adams Foundation mounted attacks on Rick Norsigian, attorney Arnold Peter and David. Three months later, as facts emerge, A. D. Coleman calls for the head of the Ansel Adams Foundation [William Turnage] to resign over his role in the issue.” He adds, “A. D. Coleman is a noted photography scholar, author and the Ansel and Virginia Adams Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence at the Center for Creative Photography.” More evidence of Streets’s ineptitude and/or duplicity; my residency at the CCP dates back to early 1996, and can’t accurately get referred to in the present tense.

Talk about chutzpah (not to mention hubris): In pointing visitors to my blog, Streets must have his fingers crossed in the hope that they won’t follow any of the links in the post to which he’s linked, browse around my site, or otherwise comes across my unfavorable estimation there of Streets’s lack of qualifications for anything relating to photography. Or else he’s simply following the rule that there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

Streets has in fact stripped his site of just about anything that would connect him to the Norsigian negatives and his several roles in that regard. [Note: He or his webmaster have removed the links to that material, but some of it remains at the site — see this July 21, 2010 press release, for example, up as of this writing, 5/30/11.] Gone are the photos of the opening of his shows of prints made from those negs, the relevant press releases, links to the Norsigian site  . . . save for a brief excerpt from Alan Duke’s July 2010 story, and a link to the full article at CNN, you wouldn’t know that he’d played a central role in that debacle.

Anton Fury, from his Facebook page

Anton Fury, from his Facebook page

Whatever the case, his triumphant return to the limelight does not bear on the Norsigian-Adams contretemps, but on a brand-new situation: the 1980 garage-sale purchase by one Anton Fury of anonymous negatives of Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield. Alan Duke, who wrote the CNN story that broke open the Norsigian-Adams controversy on July 29, 2010, has now done the same for this new development in the David W. Streets epic; see “Marilyn Monroe photos found at garage sale still a mystery,” published by CNN on May 28, 2011.

In brief, at a garage sale in Parsippany, New Jersey sometime in 1980, Fury paid $2 for a folder containing two envelopes of black & white negatives. As Fury, then a self-described “fledgling photographer,” discovered when he got them home and spread them out for viewing on his light table, one envelope held “dozens” of negatives of Monroe at a “poolside photo shoot,” the other about 70 images of Mansfield.

That the subjects are the two blonde bombshells seems undeniable, from the small slideshow that accompanies the CNN story. The rest — the photographer, the circumstances of the pictures’ making, the identity of the well-dressed man who appears in several of the images — remains unknown. For reasons undisclosed, Fury “held onto the photographs for the last three decades, not knowing much about them,” according to Duke. “The only thing we’re sure of is who,” he quotes Fury as saying. “We don’t know where, we don’t know why, we don’t know when, we don’t know who shot them. But we do know it is Marilyn.”

Anonymous photographer, Marilyn Monroe, Anton Fury Collection, CNN

Anonymous photographer, Marilyn Monroe, Anton Fury Collection, CNN

Monroe’s impending 85th birthday (she was born on June 1, 1926) appears to have catalyzed Fury’s decision to go public with his find. For reasons also undisclosed, but presumably related to the “no such thing as bad publicity” attitude, Fury, of Wayne, NJ, “flew to Los Angeles this week to show the images to David W. Streets, a Beverly Hills art dealer and appraiser experienced with Monroe photos,” according to Duke. (Curiously, Duke elects not to mention in any way Streets’s high-profile involvement in the Norsigian-Adams story, nor his criminal past, despite the fact that this reporter not only broke the original story but followed it up with subsequent accounts.)

Streets has, so far, behaved in a more circumspect manner than he did with the arguable “Ansel Adams” negatives. From architectural data embedded in the images, he’s determined that the negatives were made in Los Angeles, sometime around 1950, when both actresses — who were friends with each other — were working in Hollywood. Beyond that, instead of proposing authorship or pretending to other expertise, as he did with the Norsigian material, Streets is . . . crowdsourcing. Duke’s story continues with this quote from the gallerist: “For me as an appraiser and as a researcher, I want people to call, I want people to e-mail and say, ‘This is where it is, this is what it is, this is who I think took it.'”

Perhaps having learned a lesson from the fierce blowback resulting from the exaggerated and unproven claims he and others made in regard to the Norsigian negatives, Streets has also refrained from quoting any value to these negatives. As Duke points out, “One risk Fury runs as he brings his garage sale find to the public, and possibly for sale, is that someone could make a legal claim to the photos, which are possibly still protected by copyright laws even after 60 years. ‘That’s kind of what we’re trying to figure out,’ Fury said. ‘There’s way more questions than there are answers at this point. We don’t know where this is going to lead.'” (Of course, that risk has diminished considerably over the 60 years since the estimated production of the negatives and the 30 years since their acquisition by Fury — one possible explanation for the hiatus between his buying them and identifying their subjects and his coming forward with them.)

“Photography Expert” Patrick Alt’s website.

Indeed, while Fury clearly acquired the negatives legitimately and owns them outright (and thus could sell them for whatever the market would bear, if he so chose), the copyright law allows him to license usage rights only so long as the maker of these negatives remains unknown. If and when the photographer who generated them gets identified, those subsidiary rights become his (or hers) to exercise, unless a court rules otherwise.

No doubt we’ll hear more on this in the coming months. But here’s the kicker: Anton Fury, who found these negatives roughly 31 years ago, has since become a full-fledged photographer. Indeed, he’s something of an east coast counterpart to Patrick Alt, who played a notable role in the Norsigian-Adams narrative. Alt, you may recall, works in part as a maker of the type of nudes once referred to as “cheesecake,” samples of which you’ll find at his website.

Anton Fury's website

Anton Fury’s website

Turns out that Anton Fury does the same, in a more XXX-rated way. His website states, “Anton Fury is editor of Gent, Busty Beauties, D-Cup and Cleavage magazines. He is the exclusive photographer for all four publications. He shoots for others as well, such as Genesis, Juggs, Plumpers, Hustler, Domina Express, Score, Leg Sex, Leg Action and Nugget, just to name a few. He has hundreds of international magazine covers to his credit.”

The site quotes him thus: “I have always gravitated towards positions that have allowed my creativity to thrive. Although, I am a mechanical and analytical thinker, I incorporate my innovative approach to breath life into whatever project I encounter. I approach each new endeavor as a challenge with a devoted commitment to produce the highest quality product possible. My standards and expectations are high; however, this characteristic does not prohibit me from the spontaneity that is often necessary to complete an assignment. . . . My work ethic cannot be challenged nor contested. My loyalty goes above and beyond. I am a visionary of innovative prospective. I am motivated with enthusiasm. My technical ability is rivaled only by my passion as an artist. I am a master of creation.”

Needlessly (I hope), I swear to you that I don’t make this stuff up.

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16 comments to David W. Streets . . . He’s Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!

  • J. McDonald

    Is there any way you could insert a warning about Streets with a link to his criminal activity at the beginning of the article he’s linked to? Or could you just automatically link that article to others, where you reveal his activities? Either way, it would be a golden opportunity to get the word out through his own website.

  • It would take too much explaining to put such a prefatory link into that post. And it would distract the reader from the substantive content of that post, which has nothing directly to do with Streets and his role in all this. I’ll have to trust that visitors will follow links in that post to previous posts, and will come across the Streets information at this site that way.

  • Having read various articles regarding the newly discovered images of Marilyn Monroe somewhere in New Jersey, i thought I could perhaps contribute something to the mystery behind them.

    How they ended up in New Jersey no one can tell, but it takes very little research to find out who, most likely, took these photos. The name of the photographer is J. R. Eyerman, a Life magazine staff photographer; he shot Marilyn on multiple occasions at different periods of her life.

    A few of these images, from that particular session, were published, some as magazine covers back in the early 1950′s. They were it appears shot either in 1949 or 1950, one can tell by the distinctive look of Marilyn at that period in time, pretty much around the time she appeared in “All about Eve”.

    There is no mystery about these images, they are different takes of a rather well published photo shoot. I mean we are talking about the most famous woman of the 20th Century in the entertainment world, and a professional photographer who was part of the staff at the prestigious Life Magazine….?

    Also, the man appearing both with Marilyn and Jayne Mansfield could very well be a stylist that worked in hollywood back in the 1950′s. Could he or the photographer have lived in New Jersey at some point and time? In regard to Monroe and Mansfield being friends i must say that i have
    serious doubt about this.

    There was a seven years difference in age between them two, Mansfield being younger: Marilyn’s first contract with Fox was signed in 1946, Mansfield’s 10 years later in 1956. Mansfield being quasi obsessed with the image Marilyn had created for herself, that led her to superstardom, built her entire image based on that of Monroe.

    Fox used that to keep a rebellious Monroe in line, so they thought, but the public wasn’t duped, and Monroe not really threatened, but mostly annoyed at the concept of someone ripping off her image in what was to be a long line of replacement “Marilyns”.

    Anyway, if somewhat spectacular in appearance, Jayne Mansfield lacked all of the beauty and finesse of Marilyn, and if one places two images of either one side by side it is very clear that there isn’t any physical resemblance between them short of a very specific 1950′s look associated with what is most known as a “Blonde Bombshell”. So no they were not friends.

    That’s it, i hope this will help, i am not certain of this, but pretty sure though. A Monroe expert i am not, i am not even sure that there is such person, other than the very complex, chameleonic person Marilyn Monroe herself.

  • jan shuman

    This is not the first time that David Streets has been involved with fraud. He was sentenced to 5 years of jail in 1991 for jewelry fraud in Louisville, Ky. He defrauded 64 victims in excess of $200,000.

  • Michael Waldron

    David Streets is a complete fraud. He has made himself a Wiki page that is full of nothing but lies about himself. It appears it is in the process of being removed. There are reports that he used a claim as having stage 4 cancer to drop out of site but seems to have made a miraculous recovery. Buyer beware, this man is a fraud through and through.

  • I just saw David Streets for the First Time on Beverly Hills Pawn with Yossi the Pawn Store Owner. He was introduced as an Art Authority called in to Authenticate a Michael Jackson Drawing. As an appraiser I had never heard of him. Googling this information was Enlightening to say the least.

  • I find Colemans diatribe to be boring and self serving. Why not find a project to work yourself instead of trying to tear others apart that ARE working? And the bulk of the comments….gross and full of spiteful, bitter drivel. Jealous much?

    And, of course….”moderated”. Get a life. Why not just buy an applause machine so that you can play it for yourself every time you fart?

    • A. D. Coleman

      Well, you can’t please all the people all the time.

      Comments here are moderated after the old-school journalistic model of requiring that people use their real names, thereby taking responsibility for what they say. As you can see, you passed the test. That wasn’t hard, was it?

      Given that you don’t allow comments at your own website, simply offering a moderated selection from your email and what you refer to as your “Guest Book,” you come across as seriously hypocritical.

      Talk about “spiteful, bitter drivel” … I smell a chum of David W. Streets here.

  • mary hope

    Don’t forget S9-E9 (2014) of the Kardashians, in which Beverly Hills Art Appraiser David W. Streets was proven to be a fraud. You can witness this on You Tube. Top art historians, museums, and collectors have dismissed him as a phony. All I know is I have had several occasions to accidently sit next to him at important auctions, in important auction houses, in LA. He never represented himself, only some sophomoric wealthy person with too much money and too little education. Listening to him pontificate, and incorrectly, in order to sound sophisticated or erudite, about a specific artist of which I am the major private collector was amusing. He did not know who I was and I don’t care to know him. He’s a snake oil salesman, nothing more. Beware!

  • mary hope

    Dear A. D. Coleman,

    That’s funny. I know what you mean. It’s still amusing to watch Streets proclaim a 60 dollar reproduction Amedeo Modigliani as an original worth 100 million. The episode is titled “Faking It” and it aired on June 16th, 2014. Enjoy.

    • A. D. Coleman

      Finally found it: Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Season 9, Episode 9, “Color Me Lonely,” June 15, 2014. “Kourtney learns that Scott’s late parents have left a painting, which is thought to be an original Modigliani.” And there, at timestamp 29:13, we see convicted felon and notorious scam artist David W. Streets looking at it for perhaps 15 seconds before declaring “It’s the real thing!”

      Then a real appraiser from Sotheby’s shatters their dreams. It’s a watercolor containing titanium white, which postdates Modigliani’s output — most probably purchased by Scott’s parents in Italy as a tourist souvenir.

      This is just one of half a dozen threads running through the episode, which I did watch in its entirety — the only episode I’ve consumed to date, and the last. I have no appetite for the lifestyles and shenanigans of pampered poodles. Eat the rich, I say.

  • You careless jerks do realize David had friends who loved him, yes? How would you like it if someone spoke like this of your brother or your sister? It is obvious that you each have a hard time looking at yourself in the mirror for the fact you feel better about yourselves by looking down on others. How sad for you. And yeah, take a look at my website and make up a story about me. I wouldn’t expect any less from such deplorable. Shame is I could buy and sell all of your cheap asses.

    • A. D. Coleman

      My condolences for your loss.

      Doesn’t change the fact that David W. Streets made himself a high-profile public figure on whom it is fair to comment, even posthumously. If that offends you, too bad.

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