For decades two paintings by Russian artist, philosopher and mystic Nicholas Roerich hung in the library of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute under the watchful eye of Head Librarian NS Pakhale. When Pakhale retired in 2009 the transition was smooth and nobody noticed anything amiss, until one day last year the new administrators discovered the two paintings – Himalaya Kanchenjunga and Sunset Kashmir – had turned up at Sotheby’s auction house.
Their estimated price: 2 million dollars.
The sellers were two Pakistani men, one resident in the UK. India’s Central Bureau of Investigators has been trying to trace the connection between the retired librarian, who is currently on trial, and the Pakistani men. It is still not clear how the paintings vanished from the institute and were transported to London.