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Art thief gets 1 to 3 years in prison in New York

February 28, 2012 | 11:15 pm

Art thief with $430,000 collection of stolen work sentenced to NY prison

Mark Lugo, 31, was sentenced to prison in New York on Tuesday following a bicoastal series of art thefts, including the theft of a $350,000 drawing by Cubist painter Fernand Leger from a lobby gallery at Manhattan’s Carlyle Hotel. He'd previously served time in California for walking off with a $275,000 Picasso drawing called “Tete de Femme” from San Francisco's Weinstein Gallery.

A judge sentenced him to one to three years behind bars, though he could be released after six months of toiling in a boot camp-style program.

Lugo, a sommelier and waiter in upscale Manhattan  restaurants, apparently didn't steal art to sell it. Instead, according to his lawyer, James Montgomery, "his interest in these things were aesthetic."

Indeed, Lugo sought to satisfy his tastes, which aren't of the shabby-chic variety. Investigators found a $430,000 collection of stolen art hanging in Lugo’s apartment in Hoboken, N.J., authorities said. Lugo has also been accused of taking three bottles of Chateau Petrus Pomerol — together worth $6,000 — from a wine shop last April. That case is pending.

A wine sommelier who steals art not to hawk but simply to satisfy his aesthetic cravings? Sounds like a good movie role for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who looks nothing like Lugo, we'll admit, but that's the magic of cinema for you.


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--Margaret Wappler

Photo: Booking photo from October 2011 of Mark Lugo. Credit: San Francisco district attorney / AP