Remember Mark Lugo? He walked into a San Francisco gallery and ran out with a Picasso under his arm. Police found him and the drawing in a San Francisco hotel as he prepared to flee the city.
It’s said that there’s no such thing as bad publicity but Mark Lugo may take issue with that assertion. In the wake of news reports of West Coast heist, police on the East Coast were able to match Lugo’s image from San Francisco surveillance footage with that of the thief who stole a $350,000.00 Picasso from the Carlyse Hotel. Lugo is now the prime suspect in several art heists.
In June 2011, Lugo appears to have been on a quest to bolster his art collection. Unlike many collectors, he left his Amex card at home. When police raided his Hoboken apartment, they unearthed a trove of art whose value was estimated at half a million dollars. Lugo was a New York sommelier.
In total, eleven works were recovered. Five were reported stolen from New York galleries and the remaining six were stolen from hotels. Lugo was drawn toward modern and contemporary work. The Bay Citizen has details:
Police found a Richard Pugliese painting from the Harris Gallery, five small Mie Yim drawings from the Chambers Hotel, a Nara Yoshitomo from the Opera Gallery, a Jean-Michel Basquiat photo from the Scot Foreman Gallery, the Leger sketch from the Carlyle Hotel, a Malick Sidibe photograph from the Jack Shainman Gallery and another Pablo Picasso sketch from the William Bennett Gallery.
East Coast police are still compiling the case against Lugo. Meanwhile in San Francisco, he faces an array of felony counts, among them grand theft, possession of stolen goods and commercial burglary. While he may have been caught on surveillance with the Picasso under his arm and later red-handed with the drawing in his hotel room, Mark Lugo plans to plead 100% not guilty.