Hillel “Helly” Nahmad, successor of the Nahmad’s art empire, blamed his father David Nahmad for his gambling ring arrest.
The gambling problems of Helly were put at display in 2013 when his betting scheme, run together with various Russian partners, absolutely against US gambling laws was detected by the Federal investigators.
Nahmad pleaded guilty for operating illegal gambling business and accused his dad for his gambling problems. He insisted that David exposed him to both gambling and art at a very early age, therefore Helly developed remarkable interest in both.
Helly’s idea for community service
Desperate due to the severe consequences and the real possibility to go to jail, Hillel provided the Manhattan Federal Court judge with a memo begging for community service sentence, instead of prison time.
The ultra rich art heir Helly Nahmad, who is accused of illegal gambling schemes, is offering alternative social activities in an attempt to avoid jail sentence
• The family’s art collection is said to be worth $3 billion
• Helly was exposed to gambling and art his whole life
• His gambling problems appeared when he was in his 20s
He went further by suggesting the form of service that would benefit the society the most, namely educating homeless children about the characteristics and beauty of modern art, as well as visiting museums with them, including his own Helly Nahmad Gallery on Madison Avenue in New York.
He wrote in the additional letter: “I think I can do much good work if permitted to perform community service, especially if it involves teaching young people about art and art history.”
Additionally: “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.”
Nahmad also offered to provide $100,000/year to support an amazing cause, which is led by Natasha Schlesinger, an art historian and educator, who organizes tours of the Metropolitan Museum of Art for children from Bronx.
He expressed his hopes that he could develop the potential teaching project into a real nonprofit organization – ArtWorks.
The ultra rich defendant also provided numerous letters from his rich and famous friends and family members who testified supporting his personality and also gave details of his breakdown after the arrest in 2013.
Helly wrote: “Since I was young, gambling was part of my family’s recreational life. It was acceptable in the culture I was raised in. I never thought that gambling would lead me to a possible prison sentence and create a permanent black mark on my family’s name.”
Helly’s father help
Hillel’s father David also wrote supporting letter for his son, admitting that he exposed his son to gambling practices like poker and backgammon, at an early age, stressing on the fact that gambling is a natural part of Lebanese culture.
David commented on different practices at US poker rooms: “Helly watched me gamble, sometimes for high stakes, and it became part of his life too. When he lost, he sometimes turned to me to pay his debts, and I did.”
Moreover: “He bet on everything from who could throw a baseball further to whether a friend could score a basket on an NBA player.”
The roots of the illegal gambling problems
The illegal gambling activities became part of Helly’s life when he was in his 20s, according to the memo, when he had bad moment losing significant amounts of money on betting.
This was the time when he met Noah Siegel, who had created a special computer algorithm, which was able to find weaknesses in the bookies’ odds-making.
The partners worked together, as Helly was the money provider and Noah was the magician. They were placing bets at extremely high amounts of money.
The memo read: “Soon, Helly joined up with Noah and went from being a loser to a winner overnight.”
Soon after, they became popular among bookmakers, who began to ban them from their betting sites, so they had to find different sites to bet. Illya Trincher, a professional poker player, helped them with that part.
The bad finale
With the time, the scheme turned around completely and in 2012 the partners stopped placing bets, but instead began to provide them to rich friends and celebrities.
Nahmad firmly insisted that he was not part of the deal for money, as he has extremely successful art business, which manages to sustain his lifestyle.
The memo continued: “Although Helly complained when those with whom the group crossed did not pay up, it was not about the money. Noah’s betting gave Helly teams to root for. It made the Super Bowl more exciting and March Madness more intense.”
The court charges for the group came soon after in April 2013, when a total of 34 people were accused of being part of the $100 million illegal gambling ring.
The 3 main participants pleaded guilty and Helly agreed to give up $6.4 million as well as the “Carnaval à Nice, 1937,” a painting by Raoul Dufy that’s extremely valuable.
The final sentence for Helly will be announced at the end of this month when it will be know if he will go to jail after all.