Like original Picasso art? Just take it (and get arrested).

The show season is starting again, with our first show in Redondo Beach, CA, July 29-31, 2011. Since I will have less time to write about the interesting things happening in the antiques world, I will be posting new blog entries once or twice a week — Mondays and Thursdays. If you don’t see a new post on Thursday, it’s because I was too busy, so look for a new one the following Monday.

Mark Lugo, photo courtesy AP

Mark Lugo of Hoboken, NJ, has very good taste. He likes fine wine and good art. The problem was that he didn’t have the money to pay for it, so he just took what he liked. Lugo was arrested in San Francisco on July 6, 2011, a day after allegedly stealing a 1965 Picasso drawing, “Tete de Femme” from the Weinstein Gallery on Union St. in San Francisco. His modus operandi was to calmly remove art from the wall of a gallery or hotel, walk out, and then take a taxi. In the San Francisco theft, he was caught on video in a taxi, at his hotel and at a nearby restaurant.

Mark Lugo with the suspected stolen Picasso. Photo courtesy of AP.

Using tapes from previous robberies, the police were able to obtain a search warrant for his apartment in Hoboken, NJ, where 11 other stolen artworks were recovered. The most valuable of the stolen works ($350,000) was a 1917 Fernand Léger India ink composition on linen, “Composition aux Elements Mécaniques (Composition of Mechanical Elements). It was on loan to the Carlyle Hotel in NYC, where it was hanging on the wall in the lobby. Lugo supposedly removed the work from the wall and calmly walked out of the hotel on the morning of Jun 29, 2011. All of Lugo’s suspected thefts occurred within a relatively short period of about four weeks.

Picasso "Tete de Femme". Photo courtesy of Weinstein Gallery.

To top it off, Lugo, who had been a sommelier at fine New York restaurants, like BLT Fish, was also suspected of stealing three bottles of very expensive wine, Château Pétrus Pomerol, from Gary’s Wines in Wayne, N.J. At $2,000 a bottle, that’s really fine wine. In no surprise, the wine has not been recovered. Now that’s funny.

The New York Times reported on July 15, 2011, that his attorney, Douglas I. Horngrad, said “I think there is some psychiatric episode going on. Everything we’ve heard that Mark has taken, he’s apparently taken in a short period of time, with no indication of any such activity before then. So this sounds like the act of someone in the middle of a compulsive episode.”

On Friday, July 15, 2011, in a San Francisco court, Lugo pleaded not guilty to stealing the Picasso from the Weinstein Gallery. Judge Samuel Feng denied his request to reduce his bail from $5 million to $2 million, citing that the defendant “posed a threat to public safety and local business owners”. He will remain incarcerated until his next court appearance, scheduled for August 23, 2011.

Rare Louis Icart etching Miss America

Check out my new acquisitions. I just listed a very rare Louis Icart etching, entitled “Miss America”, plus a gorgeous Daum Nancy pink floral vase; a rare Tiffany Studios desk lamp in the Spanish pattern; several fine Daum vases; a Daum lamp; several Galle vases; and several more Tiffany Favrile vases. Soon I’ll be listing a wonderful Tiffany Studios 7-light lily lamp with beautiful shades and a fine patina. Also coming soon will be several wonderful European ceramic items by Clement Massier, Zsolnay and Amphora. Here’s the link. chasenantiques.com

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