Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Picasso art found in suspect's home

Mark Lugo is accused of stealing a valuable Picasso drawing from a San Francisco gallery (AP)

A man accused of stealing a valuable Picasso drawing from a San Francisco gallery had about 500,000 US dollars worth of other stolen artwork in his New Jersey apartment, including another Picasso, police said.

Authorities raided the Hoboken home of Mark Lugo on Wednesday after Lugo made a phone call on Tuesday from the San Francisco jail to a female friend in Pennsylvania, Hoboken police Detective Sergeant Edwin Pantoja said.

Armed with a search warrant, authorities said they found a Picasso drawing worth 350,000 US dollars that had been reported stolen from a New York hotel, among six other pieces around Lugo's apartment.

"The Picasso was hanging on his wall," Det Sgt Pantoja said. "The others were displayed all over his apartment. He had a nice little gallery going on."

Lugo's lawyer, Douglas Horngrad, said he was aware of the latest allegations but would not comment in further detail on the claims. However, he said the crimes appear to be the work of someone in the midst of a compulsive episode, "rather than an art thief who is sophisticated enough to know how to a fence a Picasso".

Lugo, 30, is scheduled for arraignment in San Francisco. His lawyer previously said Lugo intends to plead not guilty.

He was being held on five million US dollars bail in connection with the July 5 theft of the 1965 Picasso drawing, Tete de Femme from the Weinstein Gallery.

After the drawing was snatched, police said, the thief hopped in a taxi to a nearby luxury hotel. Lugo was later traced to the hotel and later to Napa where he was arrested while visiting friends.

The Picasso - worth more than 200,000 US dollars - was found undamaged, unframed and prepped in Napa to be shipped to an undisclosed location.

Lugo, who has worked as a sommelier, also is charged with stealing 6,000 US dollars worth of wine from a New Jersey wine shop in April. He missed his scheduled court date there on Thursday.

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