Picasso Thief Busted

NJ wine steward nabbed for theft of $200K sketch
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 8, 2011 2:04 AM CDT
Updated Jul 8, 2011 5:17 AM CDT
San Francisco police chief Greg Suhr, left, speaks at a news conference. The recovered Picasso in the foreground is worth around $200,000.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
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(Newser) – A thief who strolled out of a San Francisco gallery with a stolen Picasso has been arrested and the 1965 pencil sketch has been recovered, police say. The suspect, a man who flew in from New Jersey the day before the theft, was found staying with friends in Northern California's wine country, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Police say he had the sketch ready for shipment and it "would have been in a FedEx box somewhere" if they had found him a day later.

Investigators tracked the man down after finding a cabbie who took him from near the gallery to an upscale hotel. The 30-year-old suspect, who has no major criminal record, has worked as a wine steward in high-end East Coast restaurants. "We can assume he has good taste, and how he was going to finance that good taste, perhaps, was based upon his success in obtaining a valuable piece of art," the chief investigator says.

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