Trump Pardons Hillel Nahmad, Madison Avenue Art Dealer

In one of his final gestures before leaving office, President Trump pardoned one of New York’s best-known art dealers, Hillel Nahmad, known as Helly, a member of a wealthy, influential family of art collectors that has been a fixture in auction houses for decades.

Mr. Nahmad had served five months in federal prison in 2014 after pleading guilty to a charge that he had led a sports gambling ring. Investigators had said the ring had ties to Russian-American organized crime figures, several of whom were also charged in the case.

Mr. Nahmad did not respond to a request for comment on his pardon from Mr. Trump, who has been something of his neighbor in New York. Mr. Nahmad bought every unit on the 51st floor of Trump Tower in Manhattan starting almost two decades ago. Bloomberg reported in 2016 that he paid more than $18.4 million to amass the entire floor.

Mr. Nahmad’s pardon was one of 143 pardons and commutations Mr. Trump granted during his final hours in office, including pardoning 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 announcing Mr. Nahmad’s pardon said, “he has lived an exemplary life and has been dedicated to the well-being of his community.”

Mr. Nahmad’s gambling ring drew celebrity participants and investigators had said he received a large share of the $100 million operation’s profits. In addition to his prison sentence, Mr. Nahmad was ordered to pay a $30,000 fine, forfeit $6.4 million in earnings, and enroll in a gambling addiction program.

“Your Honor, I am ashamed,” Mr. Nahmad said in court just before the sentence was handed down, according to Art in America. “My family is a private family and I have brought dishonor to it. No matter what your sentence today, I will never forgive myself. Others who love me may forgive, but I will not.”

Mr. Nahmad’s Upper East Side gallery, Helly Nahmad Gallery, on Madison Avenue has exhibited work by luminaries like Picasso and Francis Bacon.

Among those indicted in the case was Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov, a high-ranking Russian gangster who was accused of having a role in the gambling ring. Mr. Tokhtakhounov, who was based in Russia, was never arrested.

Mr. Nahmad’s family, whose fortune began with interests in banking and currency trading in their native Syria, and later Lebanon and Italy, owns one of the largest collections of Impressionist and Modernist art in the world. The family is worth an estimated $3 billion.

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