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HOUSTON – The huge private collection of African art inside a county maintenance shed in Compound 1 stands still, two weeks after movers were allowed to start showing up.

When KPRC 2 Investigates approached Commissioner Rodney Ellis the day county officials planned to move the art, he would not comment on the art’s status. He told KPRC 2 to “talk to the county attorney”.

When we reminded Ellis that the day to move the artwork was to start on that specific day, and asked if it had been moved or not, Ellis replied, “I don’t know, but whatever I do will be in conjunction with the county attorney’s office.

The move has since been put on hold after the September 9 report from KPRC 2 Investigates. Ellis’ own team at the time admitted that the ownership had not been verified.

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“We’d like the owner to get it, whoever it is,” spokesman Bill Miller said.

The county attorney’s office and its new leadership told KPRC 2 Investigates that no moves would be allowed unless approved by other agencies.

“We obviously would never do anything about this piece of art without first clearing it with other entities that have an ongoing investigation,” said Jay Aiyer, first assistant for the county attorney’s office.

The Harris County District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit has been investigating the collection since February 2020, according to county officials.

“We have documented the evidence in this case,” said David Mitcham, first assistant in the office of prosecutor Kim Ogg.

Very little was said about the art collection and the prosecutor’s office investigation, but Mitcham reiterated that they had gathered what they needed.

“We said there was no opposition because we documented the evidence,” Mitcham said.

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While Ellis won’t respond to questions about the art and its future, Miller confirmed Monday that they are still awaiting authentication of the artwork as “some sort of ownership verification” is required.

Throughout the investigation there have been questions regarding the public benefit provided to the private owner of the art, as no storage fees or taxes have been paid since the art was moved and maintained inside the renovated shed.

When KPRC 2 Investigates asked about uncollected dollars for storage or taxes and the chances of getting future refunds, Aiyer of the county attorney’s office said they were “not looking to recover anything.” it is for the moment”.

“We don’t see it that way yet,” Aiyer said.

Aiyer made it clear there were ‘irregularities’ which they were trying to ‘sort out’ as there is no paperwork matching the private artwork stored inside the county shed at the expense. public.

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“We don’t have an agreement for a hangar. There is no agreement to place artwork in a hangar,” Aiyer said.

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