Anyone who steals and has a problem with theft needs to take a theft class. For some it is the psychological counseling that will keep them from seeking the high they get from stealing. I would place thieves who steal high-end art in this category.
Mark Lugo has a taste for more than fine wines. A wine steward, Lugo plucked artwork off hotel and gallery walls in a bicoastal spree. He admitted to stealing a $350,000 drawing in New York, resolving charges here after serving jail time in California.
He claims he was just an art-loving thief who stole to decorate his own apartment. Now the best artwork he will see will be drawings from prison inmates in his jail cell.
He admitted he took the pricey sketch by the Cubist painter Fernand Leger from a lobby gallery at Manhattan's Carlyle Hotel on June 28 — one of the New York thefts accomplished by lifting art off hotel walls and walking off with the works in canvas tote bags. Besides the Leger, he was charged with stealing five works by the South Korea-born artist Mie Yim from another hotel last June.
The 31-year-old Lugo will receive one to three years in prison.
Lugo was publicly identified as a suspect in several New York heists shortly after his July arrest in San Francisco. In the Bay Area, he strolled into the Weinstein Gallery, took a $275,000 1965 Picasso drawing "Tete de Femme (Head of a Woman)" off a wall, walked down the street with the sketch under his arm and hopped into a taxi.
Lugo was not lying. At Lugo's own apartment in Hoboken, N.J., investigators found a $430,000 trove of stolen art on display.
Among some 19 artworks at the apartment was Leger's 1917 "Composition with Mechanical Elements," the Manhattan district attorney's office said. The drawing disappeared June 28 from an employee entrance area at a gallery in the Carlyle Hotel.
A search of Lugo's apartment turned up four other pieces — including a Picasso work — that may have been stolen from Manhattan venues. But he was charged in New York only with the thefts of the works by Leger and Yim, who's known for her disconcerting images of toy bears and other creatures.
Lugo, a sometime sommelier and kitchen server at upscale Manhattan restaurants, also is charged in New Jersey with taking three bottles of Chateau Petrus Pomerol — together worth $6,000 — from a Wayne wine shop last April. Obviously, he has expensive tastes.
His new jail sentence follows on the heels of the 138-day stay he just finished.
A stop theft class would be valuable. He has to be programmed to accept what he has. Maybe posters are in his future.