Time for an update on Mark Lugo, the Hoboken-based, Cali-busted former Manhattan sommelier who, after serving time for lifting a Picasso drawing off the wall of a San Francisco gallery, is back in New York standing trial for doing similarly here. Lugo is being held without bail after pleading not guilty to grand larceny and other charges in a Manhattan court on Friday.
Lugo’s lawyer, James Montgomery, tells NPR that his client is a “pleasant, engaging” man “who’s been struggling with particular difficulties,” though he didn’t say what those are. He also said: “When the dust settles, and the DA’s office calms down a little bit, we’ll find that Mr. Lugo is a man who had no commercial motive at all.” So relax, everybody, he only stole the art because he really likes art, isn’t that so wholesome and unimpeachably sweet?
Prosecutors concurred that Lugo kept the lifted pieces in his apartment, rather than attempting to sell them. He faces charges in New York related to five of the six stolen works found in his Hoboken apartment and likely stolen on two separate occasions from galleries in Manhattan—most notably Fernand Leger’s 1917 sketch “Composition with Mechanical Elements,” estimated to be worth $350,000 believed to have been taken from a gallery at the Carlyle Hotel in June, and a Picasso likely taken from Soho’s William Bennett Gallery.
When the New York judicial and penitentiary system is done with Lugo, he’ll also have to face charges in New Jersey, where he stole some really valuable bottles of wine—but not to sell for profit, he just wanted to drink them.