General Crime

* Femme au Chignon A Pablo Picasso lithograph worth $30,000 stolen and found in Novato

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A Pablo Picasso lithograph worth $30,000 that was stolen from a Novato mansion owned by former Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko was recovered Sunday morning, a Novato police sergeant said. The framed lithograph, titled “Femme au Chignon,” was found around 8:20 a.m. propped against a fence along a curb on Burning Tree Drive by neighbors who were driving to a hiking trail, Sgt. Jennifer Welch said. “It was placed there to be found,” Welch said.

The lithograph is believed to have been taken from the furnished but unoccupied residence at 100 Obertz Lane that is owned by Lazarenko, who is serving time in a federal prison in Los Angeles for conspiracy and money laundering. Novato police responded to a large party at the mansion around 10:20 p.m. on May 27. More than 100 teens who were at the party fled as officers arrived, and it was evident that the home had been entered forcibly and had been vandalized, Lt. Keith Heiden said.

Police were unable to contact the homeowner or caretaker that night, but the property owner determined the next day that items had been stolen, Heiden said. On June 5, the property manager listed the Picasso lithograph, silver candlestick holders, clothing, laptop computers and other personal items among the property stolen from the 19,500-square-foot mansion.

None of the people at the party have been arrested, but police have identified one suspect and expect to identify more soon, Welch said. Police are asking residents of Obertz Lane to contact them if they see any more suspicious gatherings, Welch said.We’re pleased the lithograph has been recovered,” Welch said. This was the first time police were aware of a party at the mansion, Welch said.

Lazarenko was convicted in absentia in Switzerland in 2000 of laundering money. He had fled to the U.S. in 1999 and was detained in New York City. In 2004, he was convicted by a federal jury in San Francisco of conspiracy and money laundering between 1994 and 1997. He was sentenced to nine years in prison and fined $10 million in August 2006 but his attorney appealed the conviction and sentence. In 2008, an appellate judge dismissed six counts but upheld eight money laundering and conspiracy counts.

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