A New Jersey man accused of stealing a Pablo Picasso drawing from a San Francisco art gallery last week made his initial appearance in court today. Mark Lugo, 30, of Hoboken, N.J., is suspected of walking into the Weinstein Gallery at 383 Geary St. near Union Square last Tuesday, taking a pencil-on-paper drawing titled “Tete de Femme” valued at about $275,000, and fleeing in a waiting taxicab.
Lugo was arrested Wednesday after police used surveillance footage and eyewitness accounts to track him to a hotel in San Francisco, and then to an apartment in Napa where he was staying with friends. The painting was in good condition but had been taken out of its frame, and it appeared that Lugo was planning to have it shipped somewhere, police said.
Lugo was charged with felony counts of grand theft and second-degree burglary, and made his initial appearance in San Francisco Superior Court this afternoon, wearing an orange jail jumpsuit but looking clean-shaven compared to the scruffy look he had in a mug shot released by police after his arrest. His arraignment was postponed until Friday, when a motion to reduce the amount of his bail — currently set at $5 million — may also be heard, Judge Samuel Feng said.
Outside of court, Lugo’s attorney Douglas Horngrad downplayed the case, which has made international headlines. “Nobody is dead, nobody got assaulted, this is not the crime of the century,” Horngrad said. Police have retained the painting as evidence as the criminal case proceeds.
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