In one of his final gestures prior to leaving office, President Trump pardoned one of New York’s most famous art dealers, Hillel Nahmad, known as Helly, a member of a wealthy, influential family of art collectors who auction houses had been a fixture for decades.
Mr Nahmad spent five months in federal prison in 2014 after pleading guilty to running a sports ring. Investigators said the ring had ties to Russian-American organized crime figures, some of whom were also charged in the case.
Mr Nahmad did not respond to a request for comment on his pardon for Mr Trump, who was something of his neighbor in New York. Mr. Nahmad bought every unit on the 51st floor of Trump Tower in Manhattan for nearly two decades. Bloomberg reported in 2016 that it paid more than $ 18.4 million to pile up the entire floor.
Mr Nahmad’s pardon was one of 143 pardons and commutations granted by Mr Trump during his final tenure, including the pardons of Stephen K. Bannon, his former chief strategist, and Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., the musician known as Lil Wayne.
“Since his conviction,” a White House statement Announcement of Mr. Nahmad’s apology said, “He lived an exemplary life and was dedicated to the welfare of his community.”
Mr Nahmad’s gambling ring attracted prominent participants, and investigators had said it received a large portion of the profits from the $ 100 million operation. In addition to his jail term, Mr. Nahmad was sentenced to pay a $ 30,000 fine, forfeit $ 6.4 million in revenue, and enroll in a gambling addiction program.
“Your Honor, I am ashamed,” Nahmad said in court just before Art in America said the verdict was passed. “My family is a private family and I have brought shame. No matter what your sentence is today, I will never forgive myself. Others who love me may forgive, but I won’t. “
Mr. Nahmad’s Upper East Side gallery, Helly Nahmad Gallery on Madison Avenue, has featured work by greats like Picasso and Francis Bacon.
Among those accused was Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov, a senior Russian gangster who was accused of playing a role in the gambling ring. Mr. Tokhtakhounov, who was a resident of Russia, was never arrested.
Mr. Nahmad’s family, whose fortunes began with an interest in banking and foreign exchange trading in their native Syria and later in Lebanon and Italy, own one of the largest collections of Impressionist and Modernist art in the world. The family is valued at $ 3 billion.