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Picasso Lithograph Found by Fence, $30,000 Art Stolen After Teen Party

A Picasso lithograph was found by a fence in Novato, Calif. Sunday after the $30,000 artwork was stolen from a mansion. In addition to the painting, $5,000 worth of laptops and other valuables were reported stolen May 28.

The Picasso lithograph was found by the fence because of Greg Atamaniuk, who was out for a morning hike, according to the Marin Independent Journal. The find was a fortunate one, because the date on the "femme au chignon" painting matches a 1957 series of 50 prints- some which are valued from $30,000 to $40,000, according to Sotheby's auction house in 2008.

"It's something that you don't find usually on your morning hikes," Atamaniuk told the Journal.

The home from which the Pablo Picasso lithograph was stolen belonged to former Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko, police said. Because Lazarenko was accused of stealing millions, he fled Ukraine for the U.S., where he was convicted of hiding money. His home was left vacant, but not for long.

Around 100 teenagers were found partying in the nine-bedroom, 19,500-square-foot mansion by authorities May 27. It could have been then that they discovered the lithograph, but they fled, and no arrests were made.

"They had gotten in and basically ransacked multiple rooms in the house," Novato police Sgt. Eric Riddell told the Marin Independent Journal.

The next day, the caretaker caught three of the teenagers at the estate again leaving the premises. Leather coats, candlesticks, and the painting had been taken, so the theft was reported to the police. Two weeks later, however, "femme au chignon" was discovered at a fence along Burning Tree Drive.

"It appears the unknown suspect(s) placed the painting there and intended it to be found," said Riddell. None of the other property was recovered, though.

Lazarenko will be released Nov. 1 from Terminal Island low-security federal prison, according to reports. His estate still owes Marin County $2.1 million in back taxes and fees.

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