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Stolen Picasso recovered and NJ man arrested

Picasso drawing worth about a quarter of a million dollars that was stolen from a gallery in San Francisco on Tuesday has been recovered in Napa, California and a suspect arrested, police officials announced Thursday, according to CNN.

A man walked into the Weinstein Gallery in San Francisco on Tuesday, removed the 1965 pencil drawing by Pablo Picasso, entitled “Tete de femme,” from the wall, casually walked out with it under his arm and left the area in a taxi, ABC News reported. Unfortunately for him, he was caught on video with the framed artwork. A New Jersey man, 30-year-old Mark Lugo, was taken into custody when he was tracked down and the drawing was found in his room in Napa.

Bail was set at $5 million and the suspect has been charged with theft and possession of stolen property, according to BBC News.

According to the Associated Press:

“I’ve had some sleepless nights,” said Rowland Weinstein, who owns the Weinstein Gallery. “I feel very, very lucky and very relieved that the Picasso wasn’t harmed and will be returned back safely.

The Picasso was recovered and Lugo arrested on Wednesday night, less than 48 hours after the drawing was stolen, in an investigation that was aided by a video surveillance tape from a nearby restaurant and information from the cab driver who drove the suspect away from the gallery. The video, which showed a man matching witnesses’ descriptions carrying a framed artwork, came from Lefty O’Douls, a restaurant on the block, according to ABC News:

“I couldn’t believe I got that lucky to get a picture of him,” said Nick Bovis, the owner of Lefty O’Douls. “You know this guy here walked right in the middle of the day, took a Picasso, walked down the street and jumped in a cab.”

Surveillance video from the taxi that drove the man away was also used to identify the suspect.

Weinstein, the owner of the gallery, said the drawing, estimated to be worth about $275,000, was so identifiable that it would have been almost impossible to display it publicly, according to the Associated Press:

“What I don’t know is what he intended to do with it. It’s very hard to resell to show,” Weinstein said. “He either had a buyer or he didn’t thoroughly think his plan through.”

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