Feds Nab Nahmad Scion
New York - Yesterday morning, federal agents raided an art gallery at one of New York City’s most opulent hotels on the Upper East Side, as part of an investigation in a gambling operation that focused on Russian organized crime.
The gallery ran high-stakes poker games involving Wall Street financiers, Hollywood celebrities and professional athletes.
Art collectors of Art Kabinett social media network have frequently viewed the gallery's impressive exhibitions at Art Basel Miami.
Charged as ring-leader of the scheme, is A-list art dealer Hillel "Helly" Nahmad, who operates the gallery located at the Carlyle Hotel. Nahmad is a scion of one of the world's most influential art families.
The investigation, which led to the arrests of dozens of people, focused on Internet gambling and money laundering.
Charges in the case were expected as early as today by the United States attorney in Manhattan and officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Most of the defendants in the case were arrested in New York, but among those charged were people who live in Miami, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and elsewhere.
Multiple Federal Counts
There are several counts related to racketeering, extortion, wire fraud, “Illegal Sports Gambling Business,” gambling, “To Collect Extensions of Credit by Extortionate Means,” “Transmission of Sports Wagering Information,” money laundering, “Acceptance of Financial Instrument for Unlawful Internet” and “Sports Gambling,” with Nahmad named in relation to those last four charges.
Among those charged in a second racketeering conspiracy for his alleged ringleader role in the overseas operation is Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov who federal prosecutors say is a high-ranking vor or "thief in law" within the Russian Mafia.
Although "Tokhtakhounov’s connection to the Nahmad gallery was not immediately clear" according to the indictment, Illya Trincher is an alleged co-conspirator with Nahmad, and Illya's father Vadim Trincher is an alleged co-conspirator with Tokhtakhounov.
Apparently not all the boys played nice. Vadim Trincher -- he lived in a $5 million apartment at Trump Tower -- allegedly could be heard on a wiretapped phone "warning a customer who owed money that 'he should be careful, lest he be tortured or found underground'" as reported by The Associated Press.
One poor unfortunate surrendered an interest in his plumbing company to satisfy his debt according to the indictment.
Nahmad is expected to surrender soon to federal authorities. Tokhtakhounov, resides in a villa in Tuscany and remains outside the jurisidictional reach of the United States in this matter. Presently, 30 defendants are in custody.
In commenting on the bust, FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge George Venizelos said in yesterday's press release, that "the charges demonstrate the scope and reach of Russian organized crime."
Hillel 'Helly" Nahmad, 34, is the son of billionaire New York art dealer, David Nahmad (b. 1947, in Beirut)
The Nahmads are descendants of a Jewish Lebanese art family based in Monaco. They are perhaps the single biggest buying force in fine art.
As of 2013, the family's net worth was estimated at $3 billion, ranking them at 377 on the Forbes billionaires list.
The roots of the Nahmad family are in Aleppo, Syria, where Sephardic Jewish banker Hillel Nahmad lived until just after the second world war.
Following anti-Jewish violence in 1947, he moved to Beirut, Lebanon and when the situation there became difficult, he took his three sons, Joseph (Giuseppe), Ezra and David, to Milan in the early 1960s.
As teenagers in the 1960s, they began to deal in art. At a Juan Gris exhibition in Rome organized by cubist dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, Ezra and David bought two works – the only pieces sold.
Kahnweiler befriended them, selling them works by Picasso, Braque, Gris.
In the 1970s, Milan was perceived as too dangerous, and the family moved again. Joseph and Ezra headed for Monaco, and David to New York.
New York’s Helly Nahmad Gallery, on Madison Avenue, is a separate company run by David’s son, who took over his father’s earlier Davlyn Gallery.
Jeffrey Deitch, a former dealer and current director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, once described the Nahmads as "like a major brokerage firm in the stock market", adding: "The market needs a force like this to function."
David Nahmad is also the 1996 Backgammon World Champion, and is known for betting incredibly large amounts of money on the game.