A New Jersey man walked into a San Francisco art gallery and left with a $200,000.00 Picasso pencil drawing. There was one little problem with the transaction: he never paid. Mark Lugo of Hoboken, NJ, grabbed “Tete de Femme” from the Weinstein Gallery wall and fled on foot. A surveillance camera captured him as he fled down the street with a framed Picasso under his arm.
It was a stroke of luck that Lugo was able to easily remove the art. The Weinstein Gallery hangs works with multiple hooks, one on the top and one on the bottom. If someone tries to pull a piece off the wall, the top hook should pull back. In this case, the top hook was loose. When Lugo tugged at the Picasso, the top hook yanked out of the wall.
As he fled, Lugo conveniently stumbled across a cab. He flagged it and hired a ride to a hotel near Fourth and Market streets. Inside the Hotel Palomar, he packaged the Picasso piece for shipping. Although he was working alone, Lugo appears to have had a buyer lined up. Police were able to locate the cab driver who led them to the Palomer. Inside they found Lugo and the Picasso which was undamaged in the incident.
Lugo is in police custody and bail was set at $5 million.