MARIN COUNTY -- A Pablo Picasso lithograph worth an estimated $30,000 has been recovered after it was taken from the Novato mansion of imprisoned former Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko, authorities said.
The piece was reported missing by a caretaker May 28, a day after more than 100 teenagers held a party at Lazarenko's house at 100 Obertz Lane, Novato police Sgt. Eric Riddell said.
It was returned to police Sunday by a citizen who found it propped up against a fence along nearby Burning Tree Drive, Riddell said.
"It appears the unknown suspect(s), placed the painting there and intended it to be found," Riddell said.
The image and date on the lithograph match a 1957 series of 50 prints titled "femme au chignon," or woman with bun. The lithographs, which depict a woman's profile, are listed on numerous art websites. One of them -- numbered 47/50 -- carried an estimated value of $30,000 to $40,000, according to a 2008 Sotheby's auction listing.
"It's something that you don't find usually on your morning hikes," said Greg Atamaniuk, the man who found the piece at the entrance to an open space trail.
The lithograph was recovered two weeks after police were first called to the property May 27, when more than 100 teens were found holding a party there. The teens fled, and no arrests were made.
On May 28, three teens fled from the property after they were found by a caretaker in the back yard. The caretaker discovered the Picasso piece was missing, along with another $5,000 in silver candlesticks, leather coats and laptop computers.
The nine-bedroom, 19,500-square-foot house is owned by Dugsbery Inc., a Novato entity prosecutors have linked to Lazarenko.
Yury Lyublin, the registered agent for Dugsbery, could not be reached for comment.
Lazarenko is believed to have illegally pocketed millions of dollars while serving as prime minister, and was first arrested in 1998. He fled to the United States, where he was convicted of hiding money.
He is set to be released Nov. 1 from the Terminal Island low-security federal prison near Los Angeles.