Police raid NJ home of Calif. art theft suspect

A man accused of stealing a valuable Picasso drawing from a San Francisco gallery had about $500,000 worth of other stolen artwork in his New Jersey apartment, including another Picasso, police said Thursday.

A man accused of stealing a valuable Picasso drawing from a San Francisco gallery had about $500,000 worth of other stolen artwork in his New Jersey apartment, including another Picasso, police said Thursday.

Authorities raided the Hoboken home of Mark Lugo on Wednesday after Lugo made a phone call Tuesday from the San Francisco jail to a female friend in Pennsylvania, Hoboken police Detective Sgt. Edwin Pantoja said.

Armed with a search warrant, authorities said they found a Picasso drawing worth $350,000 that had been reported stolen from a New York hotel, among six other pieces around Lugo's apartment.

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

Lugo's attorney, Douglas Horngrad, said he was aware of the latest allegations but wouldn't comment in further detail on the claims.

However, he said the crimes appear to be the work of someone in the midst of a compulsive episode, "rather than an art thief who is sophisticated enough to know how to a fence a Picasso."

Lugo, 30, is scheduled for arraignment Friday in San Francisco. His lawyer previously said Lugo intends to plead not guilty.

He was being held on $5 million bail in connection with the July 5 theft of the 1965 Picasso drawing, "Tete de Femme" from the Weinstein Gallery.

After the drawing was snatched, police said, the thief hopped in a taxi to a nearby high-end hotel. Lugo was later traced to the hotel and later to Napa where he was arrested while visiting friends.

The Picasso — worth more than $200,000 — was found undamaged, unframed and prepped in Napa to be shipped to an undisclosed location.

Surveillance video from a San Francisco restaurant showed a man matching Lugo's description walking by with a piece of framed artwork covered by a newspaper under his arm, police said.

After learning about the incident, authorities in New York determined that Lugo matched the description of a man seen in a video taken at the posh Carlyle hotel in New York, where a Picasso drawing worth $350,000 was stolen last month, Pantoja said.

"Once New York saw the news reports of that arrest, they contacted San Francisco police, got their video and sure enough it was the same guy," Pantoja said.

Lugo, who has worked as a sommelier, also is charged with stealing $6,000 worth of wine from a New Jersey wine store in April. He missed his scheduled court date there on Thursday.

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