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Picasso stolen after party at empty mansion

June 8, 2012 7:43:44 PM PDT
Novato police have a multi-layered mystery on their hands. On the surface, it appears to be a typical break-in, but it involves an outrageous mansion, a former head of state, some partying teenagers and a missing art treasure.

If you were a teen and knew a massive mansion with six pools, seven bedrooms and 10 bathrooms was sitting empty, but furnished in the Novato hills, wouldn't you want to party in it?

"Well you know I drove past it and saw a bunch of kids, like kid cars, a bunch of kids hopping over the fence and stuff," neighbor Danny Dibble said.

Eddie Murphy lived in the mansion while filming a movie in San Francisco, but the present owner is former Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko. He's in federal prison, convicted of hiding tens of millions of stolen dollars in American banks.

But now he is also a victim. When police raided an illegal party on May 27, more than 100 kids scattered into the open hills around the place. Some did not leave empty-handed; they took property with them.

The report of missing items included $5,000 in silver candle sticks, leather coats and laptop computers, as well one big ticket item -- a lithograph by Pablo Picasso with an estimated value of $30,000.

Lazarenko should get out of federal prison this November. He will return to a big house, $2 million in bills for back taxes and at this rate, at least one Picasso-less wall.

"If someone does come across something that looks like a Picasso or has 'Picasso' written on there, give us a call," Novato Police Lt. Keith Heiden said.

The house's caretaker declined to be interviewed for the story.

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