New Delhi: Furniture made of rosewood, 70 animal trophies, a coffee plantation on Kerala’s Wayanad district — the list of all what the Enforcement Directorate attached from a Mysuru-based man might raise your eyebrows. But this is not our everyday pilfering. The story goes back centuries and explains how this ’empire’ if ill-gotten money was not built in one day.

Edwin Joubert Van Ingen was a Dutch national who used to practise taxidermy — preserving of animal’s body via mounting or stuffing. He died on March 12, 2013, at the age of 101. He had no relatives.

Michael Floyd Eshwar was a local land dealer who took advantage of the situation and became the self-declared foster son of the Dutchman. He was also a former horse trainer at Mysore Race Club. The duo met there and Eshwar became a confidante of Ingen. He used to mediate all his land deals and that is when Ingen started realising that Eshwar has his hands in till.

After Ingen’s staff lodged a complaint that Ingen had no foster son and particularly no one to take care of him, the conspiracy of Eshwer came to the surface. In 2013, Eshwer was booked for allegedly cheating Ingen and taking over several of his properties. Interestingly, Ingen died a day after he filed a case against Eshwer for cheating.

Ingen was the son of India’s first taxidermy factory founder Eugene Melville van Ingen. They served the Mysore royals who used to keep stuffed elephants, tigers and bison. So most of the assets attached by the ED belonged to the royal family.