up arrow How Police Nabbed Mark Lugo


New details emerged in the capture of Mark Lugo. The San Francisco gallery owner, Roland Weinstein, told the New York Times one of his employees noticed Lugo as he left the gallery with the Picasso under his arm. She was immediately suspicious because the piece wasn’t wrapped like it would have been after a sale.

The employee followed Lugo onto the street where she saw him get into a cab.  “She took down the taxi number, ran back inside, saw that [the Picasso] was gone, and called the police,” Weinstein said.

The San Francisco police quickly tracked down the driver, who said the passenger had mentioned the Hotel Palomar. “Almost immediately, they had video of him from in the cab, from the hotel, and from Lefty O’Doul’s restaurant near us, and they knew his name,” Mr. Weinstein said.

The Weinstein Gallery quickly upgraded security. Gallery owners are often lulled into complacency because art theft is rare. It’s very hard to re-sell stolen art which lowers its theft appeal. In this case, the thief seemed interested in simply building his own collection. If not for the diligence of a gallery employee, Lugo’s stolen art might be laying low on his apartment walls.