| Rohitashwa Ghosh after being taken into custody. Picture by Soumi Bhattacharya
Santiniketan, Oct. 18: More paintings, stolen or fake or bearing signatures of unknown artists being flogged as masters, and other works of art were fished out today and three people, including a Visva-Bharati clerk, were arrested.
Sleuths disguised as buyers blew the lid off a racket in stolen/fake paintings yesterday at the studio-cum-gallery owned by Rohitashwa Ghosh, whose rented flat in Behala was also raided late last night.
Seven people have been arrested so far, including Ghosh.
A police team from Bolpur seized about 20 paintings with decorated wooden frames from the ground-floor flat on the southern fringes of Calcutta.
Among them was one signed by “V. Easo”, with the year 1920 written on it. There was another by “Rizzoll”, which had 1674 written in a corner.
Even painter Paritosh Sen could not recall any painter called Rizzoll or V. Easo. “I’ve never heard of them,” he said.
From Sangeet Bhavan employee Sumantra Pal’s Rabi Art Gallery, 16 paintings, including three with Ramkinkar Beij’s signature, were found in the afternoon.
“My father Rabi Pal was close to Ramkinkar Beij. He had gifted many of his works to my father. The other paintings I have are of contemporary artists,” Pal told the police.
Some paintings, sculptures and coins were also found at his village home in Burdwan’s Galsi.
Pal was questioned several times by state and central investigating agencies after Tagore’s Nobel medal and other memorabilia were stolen from a Rabindra Bhavan museum.
A CBI team arrived here last night to question those arrested to find out if they were linked with the heist.
Anil Das and Sheikh Azad were picked up from Bhedia in Burdwan and Sriniketan, on the fringes of Santiniketan. Both were allegedly working for Sukumar Das, the owner of a Bolpur lodge held yesterday.
“Das was the racket’s prime middleman. He maintained contacts between the dealer and the customer. He has a lots of agents in and around Bolpur town,” subdivisional police officer Debashis Dhar said.
A hunt is now on for others in Visva-Bharati having links with the art racket.