UPDATED WITH CORRECTIONS: A little thing like prison shouldn’t come between best pals. So the New York Post reports that among Leonardo DiCaprio’s entourage on the glamorous island of St. Bart’s is one young Joe Nahmad, age 25. If the last name sounds familiar, it’s because Joe’s older brother, Hillel “Helly” Nahmad, 36, is Leo’s BFF and corporate sponsor. Helly couldn’t make the trip to St. Bart’s because he’s not allowed to leave the U.S. Indeed, he’s serving out a federal prison sentence at a halfway house in the Bronx according to the Federal Prison Locator.
Helly, son of infamous international art dealer David Nahmad, was convicted last May for operating an illegal gambling business. Nahmad eventually pleaded to one count of participating in a gambling operation after the government dropped other charges like racketeering and money laundering.
Helly went into jail on July 1st to serve a year and a day. But he was moved to a lower-security Bronx halfway house on November 19th. His punishment, after all, has been extremely light. According to reports he forfeited $6.4 million and gave up interest in a Raoul Dufy painting, and paid a mere $30,000 in fines. And that was in addition to admitting he ran the gambling business. Helly’s release date is May 14th, but at this rate he could be out sooner.
But Leo can’t wait for Helly to be released. His Nahmad fueled adventures must continue unabated. The Nahmads– who still run their Madison Avenue Carlyle Hotel gallery as if nothing has happened–are fabulously wealthy, well beyond DiCaprio’s imagination. One recent estimate was $3 billion. According to some reports they are hoarding thousands of major art pieces, including many Picassos, waiting for the right time to sell. They may very well have something to do with another story today: that Picasso’s granddaughter, Marina, long a thorn in the side of the family, is selling off $290 million worth of her collection.