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Saturday, 16 July 2011

Art hoard found after police raid suspect who walked off with Picasso

former sommelier who was due last night be charged with stealing a Picasso drawing from a San Francisco art gallery 10 days ago now has an even wider canvas of legal problems after East Coast police raided his apartment in Hoboken, New Jersey, only to find 11 more allegedly stolen pieces.

Police on both sides of the country now believe that Mark Lugo, 30, who used to pour wine for patrons in posh Manhattan restaurants, was fresh from a weeks-long art-theft spree in New York before leaving for San Francisco at the start of the month to pursue his new-found criminal career.

Mr Lugo, who is said to be fighting mental problems, was arrested shortly after a man made off with a 1965 Picasso drawing called Tête de Femme from the Weinstein Gallery in San Francisco. He was spotted on a video surveillance camera with a painting under his arm. The 11 works found in Hoboken are described by police as having vanished in recent weeks from galleries and hotels in New York City.

Some of Mr Lugo's alleged haul were hanging on his walls, including another Picasso pinched in broad daylight from the William Bennett Gallery in SoHo, New York. Also in his home was a Fernand Léger piece that has been hanging in the Carlyle Hotel, in New York's Upper East Side.

"The Picasso was hanging on his wall," Det Sgt Edwin Pantoja explained. "The others were displayed all over his apartment. He had a nice little gallery going on."



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