The New York based international art dealer Hillel ‘Helly’ Nahmad, of Nahmad Contemporary has been sentenced to 366 days in prison, as punishment for his involvement in a Russian mob linked high-stakes gambling ring. He was arrested in 2013 as part of an inquiry into illegal gaming promoted as private parties for high net worth individuals including movie stars, professional athletes and bank bosses.
Nahmad who played a key role in the ring had pleaded for community service rather than a jail term. He offered to spend his time educating children about art and art history. “I could really reach young people in a good way and hopefully introduce them to a world they might not otherwise ever visit,” he wrote in a letter to a US District Judge. Prosecutors had been seeking a sentence of 12 to18 months. The judge had felt that a community service order was not enough of a punishment, for Mr Nahmad. He added, by working in the art sector, where Mr Nahmad was comfortable, would not be an appropriate sentence for the severity of the crime.
Nahmad was also subject to a $30,000 fine, 300 hours of community service and three years of supervised release. He was told to forfeit $6.4 million and any rights to a painting by the French Fauvist artist Raoul Duffy, Carnaval a Nice, 1937. His lawyers revealed that Nahmad lost the lease on his prestigious gallery space at the Carlyle Hotel on Madison Avenue, and art sales at the Nahmad Gallery had dropped by over 75 percent since the arrest.
“I am ashamed,” Nahmad told U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman inNew York before his sentence was imposed. “I have learned a hard, humiliating lesson, a humbling one. I no longer gamble. I work harder than ever in my art business, in the hope of restoring my good name.”