Stolen Picasso found in SF theft suspect's New Jersey apartment 

A police raid on Mark Lugo’s New Jersey apartment on Tuesday uncovered several stolen artworks - including a Picasso painting that was taken from a Manhattan hotel, investigators said Thursday.

Lugo, 30, of Hoboken, NJ, is locked up in San Francisco county jail on suspicion of stealing a Picasso pencil sketch from the Weinstein Gallery in Union Square on July 5. The drawing,“Tête de Femme,” is valued at $275,000.

Police say they found more stolen artwork after serving a search warrant at Lugo's apartment in Hoboken, including yet another Picasso that was lifted from a Manhattan hotel. That Picasso is valued at $350,000.

Other missing artworks were discovered in the apartment. Including the Picasso, there was $500,000 worth, Hoboken police said.

"The paintings were hanging on walls and laying about the apartment," police said in a statement.

The artworks were seized by NYPD and Hoboken police. The agencies plan to file charges in their respective jurisdictions.

San Francisco police assisted in obtaining the search warrant, which was executed around 2:20 a.m., SFPD police spokesman Albie Esparza said.

Lugo was arrested on July 6 in Napa, where he was visiting friends. The Picasso sketch was found undamaged but without its frame in the condo apartment, San Francisco police said.

A security camera at Union Square eatery Lefty O'Doul's captured Lugo casually walking with the sketch tucked under his arm, with only a folded up newspaper covering it.

Lugo, a sommelier who’s worked at high-end New York restaurants, was staying in the posh Hotel Palomar in downtown San Francisco the day of the alleged heist.

Lugo is also facing charges in Wayne, N.J., located less than 15 miles from Manhattan, for allegedly shoplifting three wine bottles worth a combined $6,000 on two separate visits.

He has a warrant for his arrest for failing to show up to a June 9 court hearing in Wayne on the allegations.

The Picasso theft has gained worldwide fame. Some have referred to Lugo as the Thomas Crown of art thieves.

In a jailhouse interview with The San Francisco Examiner on Friday, Lugo said the theft case in San Francisco was “blown out of proportion.”

After hearing about the string of theft allegations, Lugo’s San Francisco attorney Douglas Horngrad said Thursday he is looking into whether his client suffers psychiatric issues.

Lugo is being held on $5 million bail. He is set to appear in court on the San Francisco theft charge on Friday.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

Police release information about stolen artwork

New York police have now released the full list of stolen artworks found. The items were taken from several Manhattan hotels and galleries between June 6 and July 1, according to NYPD spokesman Lt. John Grimpel.

  • Robert Pugliese artwork stolen from the OK Harris Gallery on June 6.
  • Five Mie Yim paintings stolen from the Chambers Hotel on June 14.
  • Nara Yoshitomo artwork stolen from the Opera Gallery on June 16.
  • Jean-Michel Basquiat artwork stolen from the Skot Foreman Fine Art Gallery on June 21.
  • Pablo Picasso sketch stolen from the William Bennett Gallery on June 27.
  • Fernand Leger sketch stolen from the Carlyle Hotel on June 28.
  • Malik Sidibe photograph stolen from the Jack Shainman Gallery on July 1.

Hoboken police have said the artworks were worth an estimated $500,000 total, including $350,000 for the Picasso.

-- Ari Burack

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