Questions Raised About Report Of 'Canadian' Artist's Death
UPDATE: The Daily Mail pulled its report on April 26. Details here.
UK-based Daily Mail reported Monday that a 22-year-old Canadian man died Sunday in a South Korean hospital of complications from surgery to remove jaw implants that had caused an infection.
Daily Mail quoted Colucci’s publicist Eric Blake as its source but there is no indication that he has spoken to any other outlet and there is no contact information online for a publicist with this name. Ruth Bashinsky, the New York-based reporter whose byline is on the article, did not respond to a request for additional information on Tuesday.
"Take the news of the Canadian singer 'Saint Von Colucci' dying after surgery in Korea to look like Jimin with a pinch of salt," tweeted Seoul-based freelance journalist Raphael Rashid. "There's no proof any of this is even true."
Rashid suggested at least two of the photos used in the coverage might have been AI-generated. "My hunch is that this is all a pile of crap."
Riddhi Chakraborty, assistant editor at Rolling Stone India who describes herself on Twitter as the “leading K-Pop/K-R&B/K-Hip Hop Journalist in India,” is just as skeptical about the story. "My entire team and all my fellow journalists have not as yet found solid evidence that any of these events have actually happened," she tweeted.
Colucci's death has not been confirmed by a hospital or any official agency in South Korea and, oddly, while there are many tweets about his death, there do not appear to be any tributes or condolences from anyone who knew him.
An April 22, 2022 press release claimed Colucci is "the second son of Geovani Lamas, the CEO of IBG Capital, Europe`s top hedge fund company" but there is no professional profile for Lamas. One website claimed last week that Colucci "is the middle child of Geovani Lamas, CEO of IBG Capital, one of the biggest hedge fund firms in Europe, and Adriana Lima, a Canadian-Brazilian former model." (Lima, who is Brazilian, has two daughters with basketball player Marko Jarić and a 9-month-old son with film producer Andre Lemmers.)
What is known is that no one named Saint Von Colucci had a notable online presence prior to reports of his death. There is no active website for it, but the domain "saintcolucci.com" was registered last June to someone using the address of a Toronto condo building but a phone number with a Boston area code. (Calls to the number go unanswered.)
An Instagram account (@papaxxzy) with about 99,000 followers featured mostly blurry photos of a person Daily Mail identified as Colucci before it was set to private and then deactivated. (Another Instagram account, @luccigonebad is also set to private and, as of Monday night, read "RIP @papaxxzy" in the bio.)
At @papaxxzy, two posts dated Nov. 8, 2022 were tagged "New York City" even though in one the young man is pictured at the corner of Toronto's Yonge and Melinda Streets and in the other he is emerging from the stairs of the King subway station on the same corner.
An Instagram post claims to show Colucci in New York but the photo was taken in Toronto.
According to a poorly written press release dated Jan. 28, 2022, Colucci was born in Quebec and “started working in the entertainment industry as early as 2015, making his debut as an actor and commercial model in Canada.” (No acting or modelling projects could be found online.)
The release claims Colucci moved to South Korea “nearly two years ago” to write and produce songs “under different pseudonyms for other artists in K-pop” and said he is set to make his K-pop debut “early this summer with the release of his first mini-album in Korean and English entitled T1K T0K H1GH SCH00L.” (No such project could be found online or on any major streaming service.)
"The details of his debut, such as his stage name, musical influences, and promotional activities, are being kept secret for the public for now until his first single comes out in March," it reads.
A phone number at the bottom of the press release is no longer in service and there is no information on the purported company behind it, IBG.
A May 2022 press release, this time from IBG Plus, claimed Colucci signed "a worldwide management deal" with City Boys Media (no such company turns up in a search) and that his debut EP Hug Me If I Cry would be released on June 1, 2022 on "all streaming platforms" (the EP does not show up on any platform).
Adding to the mystery, the headline at Daily Mail claims Colucci spent $220,000 U.S. “on TWELVE plastic surgeries to play BTS's KPOP star Jimin for upcoming US drama.” But, the article contradicts this, claiming instead that Colucci played an international student in the Korean series titled Cogimar (Pretty Lies), which is scheduled to premiere on “a major US streaming network in October.”
An article on a Korean blog, dated April 2022, claims Colucci plays "a wealthy European exchange student who happens to become a K-pop idol overnight" in "a new Korean drama franchise scheduled to air on major US streaming platforms at the end of next year."
There is no project titled Cogimar or Pretty Lies listed on IMDb and the series does not come up in a Google search. "Pretty Lies" is mentioned in both the January and May 2022 press releases as the title of one of Colucci's songs.
According to the Daily Mail, Pretty Lies filmed between June and December – yet Colucci is reported to have had the jaw implant surgery in November.
Even Colucci’s age is fuzzy. The January 2022 press release said he was 23, which would make him at least 24 now – not 22 as in the reports about his death.
According to one report, Colucci's funeral "will be held in Seoul for close friends and family members" – even though his own backstory suggests limited ties to the country.