Art thief 'did not intend to sell'

Last updated 05:00 19/07/2011
Mark Lugo
COLLECTOR: Serial art thief Mark Lugo may have "'psychological issues'', according to his attorney.

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Police say a New Jersey man accused of stealing a valuable Picasso drawing from a San Francisco gallery had $US500,000 ($NZ593,824) worth of stolen artwork in his apartment, including another Picasso.

The Huffington Post reports that police in Hoboken, New Jersey, raided the home of Mark Lugo this week after receiving information from San Francisco authorities.

Eleven works - five from New York City galleries and six from hotels - were recovered from Lugo's apartment.

Among the works were another Picasso drawing worth $US350,000 ($NZ415,677) that had been reported stolen from a New York hotel along with a Richard Pugliese painting, five small Mie Yim drawings, a Nara Yoshitomo piece, a Jean-Michel Basquiat photo and a Malick Sidibe photograph.

William Ledford, owner of the William Bennet Gallery in Manhattan, told The Bay Citizen the scene at the Hoboken house did not indicate that Lugo was a master art thief.

''When the detective called me at 6.45am, I asked, 'was this guy stealing to resell?'"

He said, 'well it looked like he was putting on his own art show.' He had no intention to sell.''

Lugo, who has worked as a sommelier, is also is charged with stealing $6000 ($NZ7126) worth of wine from a New Jersey wine store in April.

He is being held in a San Francisco jail due to the July 5 theft of a 1965 Picasso drawing called Tete de Femme from the Weinstein Gallery.

Police say he simply walked into the gallery at about 11.40am and casually removed the piece from the wall, wrapped it, and hopped into a taxi.

His attorney, Douglas Horngrad, says he may have ''psychological issues''.

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- The Age

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