SF Picasso Sketch Stolen: Mark Lugo of NJ Arrested as Suspect Caught on Video

PHOTO Through investigative leads, the suspect was subsequently as Mark Lugo and located at a hotel in Napa, Calif.PHOTO: 
Share
Copy

It's a case of lost and found for a Pablo Picasso drawing stolen from an art gallery Tuesday in San Francisco.

The 1965 pencil drawing, "Tete de Femme," was hanging in the Weinstein Gallery when, witnesses said, a man walked through the entrance, took the drawing off the wall and left in a waiting cab. The sketch is worth an estimated $275,000.

Today, police arrested Mark Lugo, 30, of New Jersey on charges of burglary, grand theft, possession of stolen property and possession of narcotics.

After a series of investigative leads, San Francisco police said, they arrested Lugo at a hotel in Napa, Calif., where his hotel room was searched and the missing Picasso sketch was recovered.

Lugo invoked his right to remain silent, so, authorities said, they don't know what he was doing in San Francisco or if he traveled to steal the painting.

"I think a 48-hour turnaround on a crime like this another case of just unbelievable police work," San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr said.

The pencil sketch isn't damaged, but the frame was removed, authorities said.

Two surveillance videos and other tips helped lead to Lugo's arrest. The first video came from a restaurant on the block, Lefty O'Douls, and showed a man matching police and witnesses' descriptions carrying a framed piece of art.

His most notable attribute was that he was wearing a dark jacket and loafers with no socks. According to police, the frame size appeared to be the same dimensions as the stolen Picasso -- 10.5 by 8.5 inches.

"I couldn't believe I got that lucky to get a picture of him," said Nick Bovis, the owner of Lefty O'Douls. "You know this guy here walked right in the middle of the day, took a Picasso, walked down the street and jumped in a cab."

Police also impounded the get-away cab as evidence and interviewed the cab driver, who told police he dropped the suspect off at a hotel in San Francisco.

Police pulled the surveillance video from the vehicle, which helped the police with the suspect's identification. Police urged other businesses to install video cameras in order to make theft cases easier to solve.

"Anything you can do in the way of installing video cameras only help us make our investigations more expeditious," Suhr said.

Gallery president Rowland Weinstein told ABC News affiliate KGO-TV in San Francisco that he is going to work harder on securing the exhibits.

"I feel sorry because it really, truly is my goal, and always has been my goal, to be able to bring exactly what you see in this gallery, original works by Picasso, Moreau [and] Chagall, onto the street level," said Weinstein. "I want it to be available to the public."

Employees at the Weinstein Gallery said they are elated that the pencil sketch has been recovered.

Lugo's bail is set at $5 million.

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...