Jul 29, 2014
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Missing Picasso Artwork Recovered

Police say the lithograph of "Femme au Chignon," which was stolen from the Novato home of the former prime minister of the Ukraine, was left sitting against a fence near the home so that it would be easily found.

Missing Picasso Artwork Recovered

A missing Pablo Picasso lithograph worth tens of thousands of dollars was found propped up against a fence Saturday near the Novato mansion from which it was stolen last month, said.

The artwork was lifted from the home of Pavlo Lazarenko, a former prime minister of the Ukraine who is serving time for money laundering. A large group of teenagers had been partying at home in the hills of southern Novato, and it is suspected that one of the teens made off with the Picasso piece.

Officers responded to a spot near Burning Tree Lane and Obertz Lane in the Marin Country Club area of Ignacio at 8:22 p.m. Saturday after a resident saw the lithograph, reported missing on May 28, sitting against a fence near a sidewalk, according to Novato police Sgt. Eric Riddell. Police believe it was placed there with the perpetrator's intention of having it found.

The Picasso piece, titled femme au chignon ("woman with hair bun") is being held in the evidence room at the Novato police station, Sgt. Jennifer Welch said. The original was created in 1957 with crayon on "arches" paper; it is 22 inches by 17 3/8 inches, according to several art websites. Artvalue.com lists its value at $25,000 to $35,000. 

"We're pleased the lithograph has been located, but there are still outstanding items yet to be located," she said.

Among the missing items are electronics and other valuable, she said.

Hundreds of people were found inside the mansion on the night of May 27, when police were tipped off about a party. Riddell told the Marin Independent Journal that the young people poured out of the home and into nearby open space areas to elude responding officers.

Novato police have been in steady communication with Dugsbery Inc., which manages the home for Lazarenko. Welch said the property managers have taken extra steps to improve the mansion's security.

"We're asking residents if they see suspicious gatherings to call us right away," Welch said. "The house itself is very unique and extremely isolated. Opportunities like this for people to operate it are pretty rare."

Lazarenko is slated to be released from Terminal Island prison near Los Angeles on Nov. 1, the Marin IJ reported.

Novato police are continuing their investigation of the theft and the ongoing vandalism at the mansion. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Detective Trevor Hall at 897-4361.

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