San Francisco News
Man suspected of stealing Picasso pleads not guilty
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The man accused of stealing a Picasso sketch from a San Francisco art gallery entered a not guilty plea in court Friday. But there are more charges piling up against Mark Lugo and it appears he may have developed a lifestyle that includes more allegedly stolen Picassos.
"Pleas of not guilty to the allegations," Lugo's attorney, Douglas Horngrad, said in the courtroom of Judge Samuel Feng at Friday's arraignment.
Lugo is accused of taking a Picasso sketch off a column of the Weinstein Gallery at Powell and Geary streets on July 5 and simply waking away.
He was caught on video by a surveillance camera at Lefty O'Doul's next door walking with what appears to be the art. He was arrested the next day in Napa. The Picasso was wrapped in a FedEx box ready for shipping. It may have been on its way to joining another allegedly stolen Picasso that Hoboken, New Jersey police found in Lugo's apartment. Pieces found in Lugo's apartment range from a $4,500 oil painting taken off the wall of a Manhattan gallery to a $30,000 Picasso and a $350,000 Leger sketch, stolen from the Carlyle hotel. Altogether, the pieces are worth close to $500,000.
Additionally, Lugo has been seen in photos police say show him stealing $6,000 worth of wine from a New Jersey wine shop.
Lugo is being held on $5 million bail. His attorney told the judge there have been murder cases that haven't had bail that high.
"I think that the bail was set too high; I think that it had the appearance of reacting to the media attention," Horngrad said.
Horngrad wanted the bail amount reduced by $2 million, but the judge labeled what Lugo did such a brazen act that he could not reduce bail because Lugo poses a threat.
"There's a tremendous amount of public safety, it's not just physical violence on a person, it's the safety of business," Feng said.
If Lugo made bail in San Francisco, he would be sent to the East Coast to face multiple charges there. The judge also asked that Lugo's passport be surrendered. He will be back in court on August 23.
The Weinstein Gallery was hoping to get its Picasso sketch back, but it appears it will continue to be held as evidence.
crime, art, union square, san francisco news, don sanchez
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