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Picasso theft suspect formally charged by San Francisco district attorney

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Mark Lugo, the New Jersey resident accused of stealing a Picasso drawing from a San Francisco art gallery, was charged by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office on Friday.

Lugo is accused of taking the Picasso sketch “Tête de femme,” which is valued at $275,000, from the wall of the Weinstein Gallery at Geary and Powell streets late Tuesday morning. He then reportedly strolled down the street, jumped in a cab and went back to the Hotel Palomar, where he was staying, police said.

Lugo was arrested Wednesday night in Napa, where the sommelier who worked in high-end New York restaurants was visiting friends. The drawing was recovered undamaged but without its frame.

The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office announced Friday afternoon that Lugo was charged with one felony count of grand theft, one felony count of being in possession of stolen property and one felony count of second-degree burglary.

Lugo spoke with The San Francisco Examiner from jail on Friday, and said he was looking for a private attorney who could take his case pro bono.

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The arrest in the high-profile case came after an investigation that included information from witnesses at the art gallery, footage from nearby well-known San Francisco restaurant Lefty O’Doul’s and information from the cabdriver who picked up Lugo, according to officials.

Lugo is being held on $5 million bail.

mbillings@sfexaminer.com

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