In an 11th-hour act, President Donald Trump has pardoned art dealer Helly Nahmad, who was sentenced in 2014 to a year and a day in prison after pleading guilty to a single federal gambling charge.
Nahmad, a member of the Nahmad family dynasty and the son of art collector David Nahmad, was caught running an illegal gambling ring worth $100 million out of his apartment in Trump Tower in New York.
He owns the entirety of the building’s 51st floor, which reportedly cost a collective $21 million.
“President Trump granted a full pardon to Hillel Nahmad,” the White House said in a statement. “This pardon is supported by members of his community. Mr. Nahmad was convicted of a sports gambling offense. Since his conviction, he has lived an exemplary life and has been dedicated to the well-being of his community.”
Authorities raided the Helly Nahmad Gallery in the Carlyle Hotel on New York’s Madison Avenue in 2013, accusing the dealer of financing a high-stakes poker game and sports-betting ring with suspected links to Russian organized-crime figures. Those ties were never proven, although several others convicted in the case were Russian.
After Nahmad’s arrest, he quickly posted $10 million bail using his Trump Tower pad as collateral, and was spotted courtside at a New York Knicks game, reportedly partying harder than ever in the lead up to his time behind bars.
Despite Nahmad’s wealth and connections, the court refused a more lenient sentence of community service after Nahmad offered to give tours of his gallery to underprivileged youth.
In the end, Nahmad served five months of his sentence in a federal correctional facility in Otisville, New York, before being transferred to a halfway house in the Bronx. He was released from house arrest in May 2015, and made his return to the art scene at Art Basel in Switzerland the following month, with a judge’s permission.
The Nahmad family is a high-profile presence in the international art industry, known for its extensive collection of blue-chip Modern and Impressionist art, rumored to be worth $3 billion.
Nahmad is among 143 late-night pardons issued by Trump in his final hours in office, including former presidential advisor Steve Bannon and rapper Lil Wayne.