screenshot/Google ImagesThis week, 34 people were indicted after two related gambling rings were uncovered that catered to A-list clientele and Russian oligarchs.
One of them was Hillel “Helly” Nahmad, a notorious Manhattan art dealer who runs an eponymous New York Gallery in the Carlyle Hotel on the Upper East Side. He was arrested in Los Angeles Tuesday, according to the Wall Street Journal.
According to the FBI’s indictment, Nahmad had allegedly been helping to run and fund a gambling ring that catered to celebrities, Wall Streeters, and professional athletes. He was accused of making two wire transfers totaling $1.35 million from his father’s bank account in Switzerland to help keep the scheme afloat, according to Forbes.
So who is Hillel “Helly” Nahmad?
The 34-year-old was born into art dealing royalty. By the time of his birth in the late ’70s, Nahmad’s father David and uncle Giseppe “Joe” Nahmad had made a name for themselves by buying works of art in Paris for cheap due to a declining art market, and making profits of 50% to 100% by re-selling them in Milan, according to Forbes.
Joe lived lavishly with expensive cars, apartments all around the world, and famous companions like Rita Hayworth, and his brother David is today worth an estimated $1.75 billion by Forbes. The entire family’s worth is thought to be more than $3 billion.
Helly Nahmad attended the prestigious Dalton School in Manhattan in the mid ’90s. In 1997, he dropped out of a Christie’s art course, and that appears to have been his last brush with higher education.
The art dealing prodigy is known outside of the art world as a frequent partier who spends upwards of $5,000 to $10,000 on bottle service at exclusive clubs, according to Page Six.
His circle of friends includes A-list celebrities like Giselle Bundchen, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Orlando Bloom. He even dated Brazilian model Ana Beatriz Barros, though the couple has since broken up.
Nahmad is a known gambler and huge sports fan. One New York Post article even described him as betting on games while sitting next to Spike Lee on the floor of Madison Square Garden.
Outside the art world, Nahmad has a thing for real estate. Not only does he own a $9 million penthouse at Bellini Bal Harbor in Miami, but he has been amassing all the apartments on the 51st floor of the Trump Tower for the last decade. This year, he finally completed his collection and now owns the entire floor, according to The New York Observer.
This is not his first brush with the law. In 2011, the grandson of a Jewish art dealer sued Nahmad, asking him to return a $25 million Modigliani painting that was allegedly stolen and sold by the Nazis during WWII, according to The Daily Mail.
His recent trouble with the FBI this week only adds to the family’s controversial name in the art world. In a Forbes feature on the family from 2007, multiple sources in the art world claimed that the Nahmads did not stay true to their word on deals and were hard to work with due to “screaming fights in the gallery.”
But given that the family’s wealth and sway in the art world, we don’t expect Nahmad to fade from the spotlight anytime soon.
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