HOUSTON – Exclusive surveillance footage obtained by KPRC 2 shows Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis interacting multiple times with the massive African art collection stashed in a Harris County maintenance shed.
The videos from the last six months, show Ellis giving private tours to a family, individuals and a camera crew. This facility is funded by taxpayers and is private. The public is not allowed inside
Ellis is seen in the videos talking to guests about specific pieces of the collection that his office claims belong to a for-profit corporation.
“The commissioner seems to have a lot of knowledge about the contents of that shed,” said Wes Rucker, a former Harris County prosecutor, when he watched the surveillance video.
“It looks bad,” he said.
Rucker was also surprised with what Ellis was seen doing in one of the videos.
“He’s putting the little girl on the structure, again this is priceless art," Rucker said.
When a family visited the shed, Ellis sat outside, giving the family full rein inside the facility.
In the final video, Ellis is seen pulling up to the shed with a woman. The two walked inside alone.
Ellis unlocked the gates and proceeded to give her a private tour. The woman spent several minutes inside browsing the collection and she sat on a piece of art at one point. The two then left together.
Watch an extended cut of the surveillance footage below:
KPRC 2 reported Thursday that the Harris County District Attorney’s Office is now investigating after county officials made them aware of their findings. The DA’s office met with the County Attorney’s Office at least twice about the artwork collection.
Two weeks after KPRC 2′s first report about the artwork, the ownership of the collection still remains unclear.
"If there was a simple explanation, you would have had it by now,” Rucker said.
KPRC 2 has contacted Ellis and his team multiple times for comment on the situation and he has chosen to remain silent. When KPRC 2 contacted his team again after uncovering the surveillance footage, his team failed to respond to the request for comment.