Carlyle Hotel Tenant Gets Raided By FBI
FBI agent outside Helly Nahmad Gallery at The Carlyle Hotel
Looks like we've got another hotel heist on our hands, but this time it's of the legal variety instead of the unfortunate robbery that befell the Four Seasons. The latest target is the Carlyle Hotel, specifically the Helly Nahmad Gallery, which was raided by FBI agents on Tuesday at 7:30 a.m. The gallery, which is a separate business from the Carlyle, has been a tenant since the 90s, with an entrance on the hotel's Madison Ave and 76th Street side.
The historic Carlyle has other famous residents, including Paramount Pictures chairman Brad Grey. According to a New York Times article, the gallery,which was filled with multimillion dollars worth of art including masters like Picasso and Francis Bacon, had actually appeared closed before the raid--its windows covered with brown paper and a sign on the door reading “We are closed for renovation, please ring the bell or call.”
The U.S. Attorney in Manhattan is charging gallery owner, Hillel "Helly" Nahmad for racketeering, conspiracy, illegal gambling and money-laundering. Apparently the indictment details that Nahmad is behind a "high-stakes illegal gambling business run out of New York City and Los Angeles that catered primarily to multimillionaire and billionaire clients.” Nahmad surrendered to LA authorities yesterday.
Helly Nahmad and poker-playing pal Leonardo DiCaprio
While the wealthy Nahmad family is known in the art-world circuit as being serious collectors and dealers, the question is whether their galleries have been a front for a multi-level operation that involves Russian mobs, secret Cyprus bank accounts, and more. But, was The Carlyle aware of Nahmad's nefarious connections? A Forbes article, would have you believe the answer is no. Speaking on the sidewalk while the raid was occurring, Victor Romero, the hotel's director of security said, “They’ve been very good tenants [more than a decade].” He added, “It goes to show what you don’t know.”
However, we have a feeling that as this story unfolds, there may be questioning of the hotel's management whether any gambling took place on property, as another person indicted in this case is "Poker Princess" Molly Bloom, a woman who in the past arranged invitation-only big stakes poker games in places like Beverly Hills hotels for the likes of high-profile clients like Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, and Ben Affleck.
[Photos: Richard Behar/Joe Schildhorn/Bfanyc.com]