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New York Art Dealer Blames Knicks for Gambling Addiction

Hillel Nahmad says he's been betting on the Knicks since he was 14, which led him to become a major player in an international gambling ring.

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Moral: Don't bet on the Knicks. Photo via

By Bryan Le

05/01/14

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Manhattan art dealer Hillel Nahmad is blaming the New York Knicks for the gambling addiction that landed him in prison. New York courts sentenced Nahmad, 35, to a year and one day in jail for being a major player in a $100 million international high-stakes gambling ring that included the likes of Leonardo Dicaprio and Alex Rodriguez.

Nahmad has also paid $6.4 million and the 1937 painting Carnaval à Nice by Raoul Dufy as restitution. His attorney, Benjamin Brafman, argued that Nahmad should only get probation as he has had a gambling problem since he was 14, betting on the Knicks with a bookie. 

But Judge Jesse Furman disagreed. “The record here before me reveals that the defendant has contempt for the law — and that he believes the rules apply to everyone else,” Furman said, citing a photo of Nahman at a Knicks game taken just weeks after Nahman paid $10 million bail. In the photo, he's wearing a baseball cap with a "king" playing card on it, while cheering alongside his attorney and film maker Spike Lee. Prosecutors said the photo shows Nahman was “apparently making light of the seriousness of the gambling charges.”

Furman said that while it's “not a crime to go to a Knicks game” even though they “might not be good,” wearing a hat that flaunted his gambling "struck" the judge as "surprising." Nahman's attorney Brafman said he was to blame as he thought going to a Knicks game would cheer up a "depressed" Nahman after the sentencing. Hopefully he didn't bet on the Knicks in that photo too - they lost that game to the Boston Celtics.

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