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Nahmad Sentenced to One Year in Prison After Folding His Cards

Helly Nahmad (center) leaves court last November.

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

On 30 April 2014, Helly Nahmad was sentenced to serve a year and a day in the Federal Correctional Institution at Otisville, New York, a long way from his $21.7 million Trump Tower apartment.

Nahmad plead guilty last November to operating a gambling business out of his Upper East Side gallery to launder money.  The terms of his plea were to return a Raoul Dufy painting worth $300,000, surrender $6.4 million, and to serve 12-18 months in jail.

Last week, Nahmad proposed to perform community service in exchange for jail time. In his pre-sentencing memo to Judge Jesse M. Furman, he suggested that this community service specifically include teaching underprivileged children art appreciation.  In his memo, he offered to “chaperone” visits to museums and to his gallery.

In a letter to Judge Furman, Nahmad wrote:

Helly Nahmad offer to chaperone underprivileged children in museums in exchange for jail time. He was sentenced to one year and one day in jail on April 30.

“I think I can do much more good work if permitted to perform community service, especially if it involves  teaching young people about art and art history….I do not have a great education in other subjects, but I really do know a lot about art and I think I could really reach young people in a good way and hopefully introduce them to a world they might not otherwise visit.”

Judge Furman, reportedly “stunned” by the Nahmad’s request, replied: “to sentence him to something he professes to love and allow his family’s wealth to bail him out would not be punishment. It would not promote respect for the law, it would breed contempt for the law.”

After Furman’s sentencing, Nahmad’s lawyer Benjamin Brafman, told the press, “We’re obviously disappointed. Seeing a man like Helly go to jail for any amount of time breaks my heart.”

For background on Nahmad’s saga see our previous coverage: Helly Nahmad, Heir of Controversial Art Dealing Scheme, Indicted in International Money Laundering and Gambling Scheme (April 21, 2013); Update: Helly Nahmad Keeps a Low Profile in the Weeks Following Indictment (May 24, 2013); Update: Two New Guilty Pleas in Ongoing Helly Nahmad Gambling Ring Case (September 9, 2013).

Sources: DNAInfo, Artnet News, Bloomberg

About the author: Mary Elizabeth Williams specializations include intellectual property, VARA claims and litigation, and artist estates.

Disclaimer: This article is intended as general information, not legal advice, and is no substitute for seeking representation.