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Art Gallery with Ties to Poker Ring Reopens

The Helly Nahmad Gallery in New York, shuttered four days prior to last week’s raid by federal agents who accused the operator of running a gambling ring featuring high-stakes poker games and a very wealthy clientele, has reopened.

The feds allege that Hilel Nahmad, a/k/a Helly, is tied to the Russian mob. The 34-year-old was charged with racketeering and conspiring to launder money. Charges were also filed against 33 others that included a handful of well-known poker players.

Nahmad has hired famed criminal attorney Benjamin Brafman, who has a client list that includes former mob enforcer turned snitch Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano, World Sports Exchange founder Jay Cohen, and recording artist and industry executive P. Diddy, a/k/a “Puff Daddy.”

“We do not believe that Mr. Nahmad knowingly violated the law and we anticipate that he will be fully exonerated,” Brafman told Bloomberg News. “This case will not in any way impact the continued lawful operation of the Nahmad Gallery.”

The gallery had actually closed April 12 to prepare for a new show before being stormed by U.S. agents on April 16. The new exhibit featured at the gallery is “Impressionist & Modern Masters.” It’s open to the public and features works by Wayne Thiebaud and Mark Rothko, among others.

Nahmad and Illya Trincher allegedly masterminded an operation that included illegal Internet gambling sites to accept wagers in the millions of dollars. The indictment claims that gallery proceeds were used to support the operation.

Nahmad was freed on $500,000 bail after surrendering his Brazilian, Italian and U.S. passports. His apartment on Fifth Avenue was also used as security as part of his release. Similar to former Full Tilt CEO Ray Bitar, Nahmad’s travel restrictions are limited to areas in both New York and California. The art dealer faces a possible 92 years in prison.



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Charles Rettmuller

Charles has been an avid poker player for a number of years, both live and online. He holds a degree in journalism and previously worked as a reporter for a Chicago-based newspaper. Charles joined the PokerUpdate team in early 2012 and writes daily news articles for the site.