Convicted Art Dealer Helly Nahmad Blames New York Knicks for Gambling 'Addiction'

Jewish Gallery Scion Gets Year for Celeb Betting Ring

Agony Not Addiction: Leading gallery owner Helly Nahmad tried to blame his conviction for running a high-stakes betting ring on an addiction to betting on the New York Knicks.
getty images
Agony Not Addiction: Leading gallery owner Helly Nahmad tried to blame his conviction for running a high-stakes betting ring on an addiction to betting on the New York Knicks.

By Lindsay Dunsmuir

Published April 30, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

(Reuters) — Hillel “Helly” Nahmad, a prominent New York art dealer, was sentenced on Wednesday to one year and a day in federal prison for running an illegal high-stakes gambling ring that catered to movie stars, professional athletes and bank executives.

Nahmad, 35, the son of a billionaire art dealer from Europe, had pleaded guilty to operating an illegal gambling business as part of a deal in which he acknowledged he led the ring, financed it and was entitled to a substantial share of its profits.

The ring included A-list celebrities like Leonardo DiCarprio and baseball star Alex Rodriguez.

In sending him to prison, U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman rejected Nahmad’s proposal to allow him to remain free and instead pay $100,000 a year to fund a program in which the convicted felon would teach underprivileged children about art.

“There is only one way for Mr. Nahmad to understand his actions have consequences … and that is to send him to prison,” the judge said at the sentencing, in Manhattan federal court.

Nahmad claimed that betting on the New York Knicks led to his gambling addiction, but undercut his own case by attending a Knicks game while awaiting sentencing.

The judge said that amounted to thumbing his nose at the court — as well as throwing away time and money on a “bad” team.

“The record here before me reveals that the defendant has contempt for the law — and that he believes the rules apply to everyone else,” Furman said, according to the New York Post

The judge questioned the sincerity of Nahmad’s request, noting that he had ample time to show intent by actions over the past year.

“Doing good works before sentencing is as low-hanging fruit as it comes and he didn’t pick it,” the judge said. “It kind of baffles me, to be completely honest.”

Prosecutors had requested a prison sentence of 12 to 18 months.

Nahmad said he felt ashamed of his illegal actions and would never forgive himself.

“I have learned a very, very hard, humiliating lesson,” he told the court before being sentenced.

Nahmad’s sentence also includes a $30,000 fine, 300 hours of community service and three years of supervised release. As part of the plea deal, Nahmad had already agreed to forfeit $6.4 million and all rights to a painting by Raoul Dufy, “Carnaval a Nice, 1937,” worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, which prosecutor said was used in a scheme to conceal money.

Nahmad was one of 34 accused members of the gambling enterprise who were charged last year with crimes including racketeering, money laundering, extortion and gambling offenses. So far 28 have pleaded guilty, including Anatoly Golubchik and Vadim Trincher, who this week were each sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to forfeit $20 million in cash, investments and real estate property.

In announcing a guilty plea by Trincher on Nov. 15, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement that Trincher and Nahmad had together run the gambling ring.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • Despite the escalating violence in Israel, more and more Jews are leaving their homes in Alaska to make aliyah: http://jd.fo/g4SIa
  • The Workmen's Circle is hosting New York’s first Jewish street fair on Sunday. Bring on the nouveau deli!
  • Novelist Sayed Kashua finds it hard to write about the heartbreak of Gaza from the plush confines of Debra Winger's Manhattan pad. Tough to argue with that, whichever side of the conflict you are on.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.