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Picasso drawing stolen from San Francisco gallery

A well-dressed man in dark glasses took Pablo Picasso’s pencil drawing, “Tête de Femme” (“Head of a Woman”[1965]) from a street-level wall in the Weinstein Gallery at 383 Geary Street in San Francisco today and left in a waiting taxi. The work was one of many of Picasso‘s entitled “Tête de Femme” and had been given to his driver, Maurice Bresnu. The gallery purchased the work at auction this spring for $122,500 and had offered the piece at over $200,000. The pencil drawing measures 10 5/8 by 8 1/4 inches, about the same size as a standard piece of paper.

Weinstein returned from his honeymoon in Europe today to news of the first-ever major art theft from his gallery. He said that the theft challenged his goal of putting high-level work before the public at street level.

Such high-value thefts are very rare in San Francisco, according to Lindsay Nivens-Frosini, director of European art at another gallery, Montgomery Gallery in San Francisco, as the result of “security and a vigilant eye.”

Weinstein is concerned that the Picasso piece will be unsellable (unless it was sold in advance!) and may be disposed of in an improper manner.

Witnesses describe the thief as “white man aged about 30 to 35, about 6 feet tall, with a dark jacket, a white shirt, dark pants, large dark glasses and loafers with no socks. One of the local TV stations quoted the taxi driver who was the unwitting get-away driver as saying that there were THREE men in the cab, who spoke German as he drove them to Pier 33.

People with information can call the police at (415) 575-4444 or text to TIP411. Callers may remain anonymous.

(Note added July 7,  2011:  A 30-year-old man, Mark Lugo, from Hoboken, NJ is being held for the crime, after images of a man carrying a framed piece of artwork were captured by a security camera at Lefty O’Doul’s restaurant, down the street from the gallery. The artwork was recovered undamaged, missing the frame. Lugo had Picasso’s “Tête de Femme [Head of a Woman]” ready for FEDEX shipment when San Francisco police arrested him at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday at an apartment complex in Napa, where he was visiting friends.)

-Bill at

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