The New York art dealer Helly Nahmad has been released from prison after spending only five months of his one-year and one-day sentence. He was arrested and tried for operating an illegal gambling ring, with Russian gangsters, potentially worth millions, from his New York apartment, located in Trump Tower. In 2013, Nahmad, 36, pleaded guilty to one count of operating an illegal gambling business. He has spent the last five months in a federal correctional facility situated in Otisville, N.Y. In November he was relocated to a halfway house in the Bronx, according to a report in the NY Observer. The information has been backed up by his attorneys. The release of Nahmad, the son of a Billionaire has sparked dialogue about the severity of the crime and the leniency of the sentence, which wasn’t even half completed. If this were some poor Bronx dweller would he have served more time?
Mr Nahmad’s early release was not predicted as efforts failed to have his sentence reduced to community service during the trial and again on appeal. He volunteered to help disadvantaged young people through art education but failed to persuade the court that he should avoid jail time. It’s not always easy to be related to the leading clan of art dealers in the world. The Nahmad family have galleries in four countries. Mr Nahmad’s incarceration was still on everyone’s lips at Art Basel Miami Beach, which ended on Sunday.
Nahmad was also subject to a $30,000 fine as well as 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 per cent since the arrest.
“I am ashamed,” Nahmad told U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in New 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.”