12:02 PM: A New Jersey man who stole a Pablo Picasso drawing from an art gallery near San Francisco’s Union Square was sentenced today and will be extradited to New York within the next month to face separate charges there.
Mark Lugo, 31, of Hoboken, N.J., walked into the Weinstein Gallery at 383 Geary St. on July 5, and walked out with a Picasso pencil drawing titled “Tete de Femme,” police and prosecutors said. He fled in a waiting taxi.
Lugo was arrested the next day after police reviewed surveillance video footage and other evidence and tracked him to a hotel in San Francisco, then to an apartment in Napa where he was staying with friends.
He pleaded guilty last month to one count of grand theft in exchange for a 16-month jail sentence, but will be released soon under supervision, district attorney’s spokesman Omid Talai said.
Lugo will be extradited to New York sometime within the next 30 days, his defense attorney Douglas Horngrad said.
Lugo is facing charges there of stealing 11 different pieces of artwork from Manhattan galleries and hotels, as well as stealing expensive wines from a store in his hometown of Hoboken.
The property was found in his apartment after the San Francisco arrest, and has since been returned, Horngrad said.
The Picasso drawing was also returned to the Weinstein Gallery, and was unveiled at a news conference this morning. The drawing has more than doubled in value since the theft, gallery officials said.
The drawing was in good condition when it was found, but had been taken out of its frame. It appeared Lugo was planning on having it shipped somewhere, but authorities did not know where.
Horngrad said, “My expectation is that it was headed to the walls of his apartment, like the other paintings” since Lugo had no history of selling stolen artwork.
Horngrad said Lugo suffered some sort of “psychotic episode” that led him to steal all the artwork and other items within a 30-day period.
The case will return to court in San Francisco on Dec. 21 to verify that Lugo has been extradited to New York.
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News
6:35 AM: A Picasso drawing that was brazenly stolen from the wall of a downtown art gallery this summer will be unveiled during a news conference today, as the man who stole it is set to be sentenced.
New Jersey resident Mark Lugo, 30, pleaded guilty last month to stealing a Picasso pencil drawing, “Tete de Femme”, from the Weinstein Gallery on 383 Geary St. on July 5.
Police work and surveillance video revealed that Lugo stole the drawing from the wall and then walked away and into a waiting taxicab.
Lugo was arrested the next day and his bail set at $5 million after police tracked him to a Napa apartment where he was staying with friends.
In July, police recovered roughly $500,000 in stolen artwork from Lugo’s Hoboken, New Jersey home, according to police there.
Since that time, the Weinstein Gallery has installed new security cameras and hired a guard to protect against future thefts, according to a statement from the gallery.
Today’s 11 a.m. news conference will allow the public a sneak preview of the gallery’s upcoming exhibition titled, Surrealism: New Worlds, set to run from Dec. 10 to Jan. 28.
The exhibition will feature more than 80 original pieces from 22 prominent surrealist artists including Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, Oscar Dominguez and Marcel Duchamp.
Lugo, meanwhile, is set to appear in court today and is expected to be sentenced to 16 months in prison. After that he will be extradited to New York to face separate theft charges there.
Laura Dixon, Bay City News