Bob Ross in a national treasure — in fact, he’s probably a world-wide one. His soothing, encouraging painting shows defined weekday afternoons for a generation. Over the course of the show, he painted over 1,000 landscapes, but where have they ended up?

That’s exactly what The New York Times wanted to discover. Because despite being one of the most popular American artists of all time, you can’t buy one of his paintings. People have certainly tried — the internet is full of tales of failed searches and fans hoping to get a little piece of the legend.

But what The New York Times found might surprise you. It’s a tale of partners, students, and even the C.I.A. at one point. For painting fans everywhere — and fans of Bob Ross specifically — it’s quite a ride.

You can see the whole video here:

Despite Ross’ passing in 1995, his popularity has only increased in recent years. His encouragement, his optimism, and his gentle, soothing manner make him a balm in difficult times. Although you can’t buy any of his painting to make them your own, it’s comforting to know that they’re in safe hands.

And, more than the art itself, it’s Ross’ presence that lives on. And that’s not going anywhere.