11:30 (BCN): A New Jersey man is in custody on suspicion of stealing a Picasso drawing worth more than a quarter-million dollars from a Union Square art gallery earlier this week, police said today.

Mark Lugo, 30, of Hoboken N.J., was arrested at about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday after police tracked him to an apartment in Napa, police Chief Greg Suhr said at a news conference at the Hall of Justice this morning.

“This is an unbelievable piece of police work,” Suhr said.

At about 11:40 a.m. Tuesday, Lugo allegedly walked into the Weinstein Gallery at 383 Geary St. and took a pencil-on-paper drawing titled “Tete de Femme,” valued at about $275,000, and fled in a waiting taxicab, police said.

Police were able to track down the cab and learned that its driver took Lugo to the Hotel Palomar at Market and Fourth streets where he was staying, police Lt. Ed Santos said.

Lugo had flown in from New Jersey on Monday, and was found on Wednesday night at the Napa apartment, where he was with two friends he knew from the East Coast, Santos said.

The painting was in good condition but had been taken out of the frame, and it looked like Lugo was preparing to have it shipped somewhere, according to Santos.

The friends did not appear to know that Lugo had stolen the drawing and were not arrested, he said.

Police said today that they did not know whether Lugo targeted the gallery and that specific drawing, and said they were not aware of any similar offenses on his criminal record.

He was arrested on suspicion of grand theft, burglary, possession of stolen property and drug offenses, Santos said.

He said Lugo had narcotics in his possession, but police are awaiting lab results to verify which drug it was.

Lefty O’Doul’s, a restaurant and bar located just down the street from the art gallery, captured video footage of the alleged thief on a surveillance camera outside the building, and police acknowledged today that the footage helped identify Lugo.

“Where we have video, we’re going to have a lot of success,” Suhr said.

He said he encourages all businesses to install surveillance cameras because they often provide key evidence for police investigations.

The Picasso drawing, which was back in a frame and displayed at today’s news conference, was later carefully placed in a cardboard box by police and taken away to be kept as evidence for the pending criminal court case.

Lugo is being held in county jail in lieu of $5 million bail, police said.

10:27 AM: According to SFPD, a New Jersey man has been arrested in the high-profile theft of a Picasso drawing from a Union Square art gallery.

San Francisco Police investigators from the Central Police Station investigations team
arrested 30-year-old Mark Lugo of New Jersey in Napa on Wednesday.

Police say they believe Lugo walked into the Weinstein Gallery, located at the corner of Geary and Powell streets, on Tuesday at 11:40 AM. Police then say the suspect took the 1965 Picasso sketch called “Tete de Femme” from a wall of the gallery, walked out, and got into a taxicab.

The sketch is valued at $275,000, SFPD said.

Police say that after interviewing witnesses, locating the taxi driver, and impounding the vehicle, they were able to identify the suspect and track him down to a Napa hotel. He was taken into custody without incident.

The stolen sketch was found in Lugo’s hotel room, police say.

Lugo’s bail has been set at $5 million. He was booked under charges of burglary, grand theft, possession of stolen property, possession of controlled substance without prescription, possession of controlled substance, and possession of narcotic
controlled substance.

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the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at

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