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Harris County Commissioner responds to discovery of massive African art collection stored in shed

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.
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. (KPRC)

HOUSTON – Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis is finally responding to the massive African art collection KPRC 2 Investigates uncovered in a maintenance shed in mid-February. The art is being stored on the public's dime.

The commissioner responded through a lengthy statement on Thursday. He stated that the art is being stored discreetly in a taxpayer-funded shed because the "original agreement was not updated" to accurately reflect the vast amount of artwork that ended up in the facility in the fall of 2018.

The discovery of this collection described as "priceless" by one art expert, has not only the attention of the County Attorney's Office but also the offices of the Harris County District Attorney.

In his statement, Ellis makes no mention of the investigations, nor does he mention the amount of taxpayers dollars spent to refurbish the shed and its outer areas.

KPRC 2 Investigates learned from the county has been spent over $250,000 to give the shed a makeover to accommodate the art.

Refurbished shed
Refurbished shed (KPRC)

As for ownership, over three weeks after our original report aired, there is still no idea of who owns the art. The county said the pieces do not have proof of ownership papers attached to them.

"It has always been my understanding, and still is my belief, that Mr. Njunuri owns all the art in question," Ellis wrote in the statement.

Ellis also makes note that he has hired attorney Cris Feldman of Feldman and Feldman to investigate this matter. Feldman, who is a well known Houston attorney, also is working with Bill Miller of Hillco Partners in Austin.

"I am committed to working with all involved to resolve these matters fully and transparently," Ellis wrote in the statement.

KPRC 2 Investigates made multiple requests for a formal interview with Ellis. He has not accommodated any of our requests.

Here is a breakdown of the KPRC 2 Investigation:

Part 1: ‘Priceless’ African art without paperwork stored in Harris County-owned maintenance shed

Part 2: New agreement proposed by Ellis prompts more questions into ownership of African art stored in Harris County shed

Part 3: New details after Channel 2 Investigates finds art collection stashed in county maintenance shed

Part 4: County officials visit shed that houses massive private African Art collection

Part 5: New claim made about African artwork stashed in Harris County maintenance shed

Part 6: Harris County Attorney’s Office says the DA’s office has been made aware of African Art findings

Part 7: Surveillance footage shows Harris County Commissioner giving private tours of African art collection stored in shed

Here is Ellis’ full written statement:


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