New Yorker Arrested for San Francisco Picasso Theft

07/08/2011 3:40 PM |

This is what a typical art thief looks like.

  • This is what a typical art thief looks like.

On Tuesday morning Mark Lugo, a Hoboken resident who worked as a sommelier in Manhattan, walked into San Francisco’s Weinstein Gallery and strolled out with Pablo Picasso’s 1965 pencil drawing “Tête de Femme (Head of a Woman)” tucked under his arm. He was caught on a nearby restaurant’s security camera and, the San Francisco Chronicle reports, arrested Wednesday evening at an apartment in Napa, the artwork—worth an estimated $200,000—wrapped and sealed in a FedEx package.

Mark Lugo, stealing a Picasso drawing like a boss.

  • Mark Lugo, stealing a Picasso drawing like a boss.

Lugo had removed the work from the frame in which it was displayed in the gallery, but the piece was otherwise unharmed. The thief was reportedly visiting with friends who didn’t know about the stolen drawing at the time of his arrest. He was booked for suspicion of burglary, theft, possession of stolen property and drug possession, although it’s unclear what drug exactly he had in addition to the lifted drawing. Bail has been set at a Picasso-priced $5 million.

Rowland Weinstein, owner of the robbed gallery, told the Chronicle:

He had it very nicely and professionally boxed up. If the police had waited just another day, it would have been in a FedEx box somewhere.

This appears to be Lugo’s first foray into art theft—his only previous arrest was for a minor alcohol-related offense. He has worked in various capacities at fancy Manhattan restaurants BLT Fish and Per Se, and flew to San Francisco on July 4th and booked a room at the upscale Hotel Palomar. Capt. Stephen Tacchini, commander of the station where Lugo was booked, quipped:

We can assume he has good taste, and how he was going to finance that good taste, perhaps, was based upon his success in obtaining a valuable piece of art. Now, his accommodations are certainly not on par with the Palomar.