The New York Times is reporting that Federal agents have raided an Upper East Side art gallery, Helly Nahmad Gallery, as part of an investigation into a gambling operation that included “high-stakes poker games involving Wall Street financiers, Hollywood celebrities and professional athletes, according to an indictment unsealed in the case.”

Tuesday morning, the gallery at 975 Madison Avenue was raided by Federal agents, who arrived with a search warrant.

Helly Nahmad, for whom the gallery is named, is one of those charged. While most of those charged are in New York, others live in Miami, Los Angeles, Detroit, Philadelphia, and elsewhere.

The indictment includes charges of gambling and money laundering, and there are suggested ties to members of the Russian mafia.

Hyperallergic called the gallery but the woman who answered the phone said they would not comment at the present time but that the gallery’s lawyer will be releasing a statement shortly.

It should be mentioned that the two Helly Nahmad galleries, one in London and the other in New York, are headed by two different but related Helly Nahmads — they are cousins.

UPDATED: The US Attorney’s office has issued a press release to explain that 12 defendants are charged with racketeering, while other are charged with money laundering, extortion, fraud, and operating an illegal poker room in New York City. The statement cites Hilele Nahmad and his art gallery in New York:

… announced today the unsealing of charges against 34 alleged members and associates of two related Russian-American organized crime enterprises, including a Russian “Vor,” for a range of offenses including the operation of at least two international bookmaking organizations — or “sportsbooks” —  that catered to multi-millionaires and billionaires in the US, Russia, and the Ukraine. One enterprise, the Taiwanchik-Trincher Organization, run by VADIM TRINCHER, is alleged to have laundered tens of millions of dollars from Russia and the Ukraine through Cyprus and into the US. The other enterprise, the Nahmad-Trincher Organization, run by ILLYA TRINCHER, the son of VADIM TRINCHER, is alleged to have been financed by, among other entities, a prestigious art gallery in New York City.


An additional defendant, HILLEL NAHMAD, is expected to surrender in Los Angeles later today.

They outline the nature of the Nahmad-Trincher Organization:

The Nahmad-Trincher Organization is a nationwide criminal enterprise with leadership in Los Angeles, California, and New York City. The organization ran a high-stakes illegal gambling business that catered primarily to multi-millionaire and billionaire clients. The organization utilized several online gambling websites that operated illegally in the US Debts owed to the Nahmad-Trincher Organization sometimes reached hundreds of thousands of dollars and even millions. One client, who lost approximately two million dollars to the organization, surrendered his plumbing company to the organization as payment of the debt.

The Nahmad-Trincher Organization was financed by, among others, HILLEL NAHMAD, a/k/a “Helly,” and the art gallery he operates in New York City, the Helly Nahmad Gallery. NAMHAD is also charged with conspiring to commit wire fraud in connection with the sale of a painting worth approximately $250,000.

The organization laundered tens of millions of dollars through various companies and bank accounts. It was assisted in its money laundering by RONALD UY, a branch manager at a bank in New York City. UY advised ILLYA TRINCHER on how to structure financial transactions so as to avoid bank reporting requirements.

The charges against Hillel (aka Helly) Nahmad have the following maximum sentence: “92 years in prison; 19 years of supervised release; $2,000,000 fine or twice the amount gained from the crimes or twice the amount lost by victims; $700 special assessment.”

The full indictment is here (h/t Gallerist):

Tokhtakhounov, Alimzhan Et Al. Indictment

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic.

One reply on “Feds Raid NYC Gallery Allegedly Involved in High-Stakes Poker Games, Art Fraud [UPDATED]”

  1. People should not be penalized for enjoying a game with money involved. They do it on wall street everyday.

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