David Nahmad

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David Nahmad
Born1947 (age 71–72)
Aleppo, Syria
OccupationRetired art dealer
Net worthUS$1.9 billion (September 2018)[1]
Children3, including Helly Nahmad
Parent(s)Hillel Nahmad
Mathilde Safra
RelativesGiuseppe "Joseph" Nahmad (brother)
Ezra Nahmad (brother)
Edmond Safra (cousin)
Joseph Safra (cousin)

David Nahmad (born 1947) is a billionaire retired fine art dealer.[2] A descendant of a Jewish Syrian art family residing in Monaco and a cousin of the late Edmond Safra, he and his relations are perhaps the single biggest buying force in fine art.[2]


The roots of the Nahmad family are in Aleppo, Syria, where Sephardic Jewish[3] banker Hillel Nahmad lived until just after the Second World War. Following anti-Jewish violence in 1947, Hillel Nahmad moved to Beirut, Lebanon and when the situation there became difficult, Hillel took his three sons, Joseph (Giuseppe), Ezra and David, to Milan in the early 1960s.

Art dealing[edit]

As teenagers in the 1960s, they began to deal in art. Ezra and David skipped school to trade on the Italian stock market. At a Juan Gris exhibition in Rome organised by cubist dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, Ezra and David bought two works – the only pieces sold. Kahnweiler befriended them, selling them works by Picasso, Braque, Gris.[4] With the emergence of the Red Brigades terror group in the 1970s, Milan was perceived as too dangerous, and the family moved again. Joseph and Ezra headed for Monaco, and David to New York City.

Helly Nahmad Gallery, on Madison Avenue, is a company run by David’s son Hillel "Helly" Nahmad, who took over his father’s earlier Davlyn Gallery in 2000.

Jeffrey Deitch, a former dealer and current director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, once described the Nahmads as "like a major brokerage firm in the stock market", adding: "The market needs a force like this to function."[3] Sarah Thornton discusses their significant influence on the auction market Seven Days in the Art World[5].

Seated Man with a Cane[edit]

Amedeo Modigliani, Seated Man with a Cane, 1918.

In 2011, Philippe Maestracci filed suit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, seeking title to the 1918 Modigliani painting Seated Man with a Cane, valued at more than $25 million.[6] Maestracci claimed that the painting had been looted from his grandfather, Oscar Stettiner, during World War II.[6] In 2012, after Defendants moved to dismiss, Maestracci’s counsel withdrew that complaint.[6] In 2015, the Limited Ancillary Administrator for the Estate of Oscar Stettiner filed suit in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of New York, seeking the same relief sought in federal court.[6] The amended complaint in that action is currently the subject of a motion to dismiss with Defendants’ counsel arguing, among other things, that Defendants purchased the painting in good faith at a public Christie’s auction in London, that Oscar Stettiner did not actually own the subject painting, and that the case is being bankrolled by business people who specialize in funding restitution claims in exchange for obtaining a percentage of any recovery or settlement.[6] Plaintiff's counsel contends that this painting had been sold out of the possessions of Jewish art dealer Oscar Stettiner by an administrator appointed under the Nazi occupation of Paris.[7] In a letter filed in court on May 25, 2016, Eve Livengood claimed the painting was purchased by her husband's grandfather in 1944 and was in the possession of the family for over 50 years, until the Christie's Auction. Defendants' counsel has vigorously questioned the accuracy and authenticity of Ms. Livengood's letter.

Personal life[edit]

David Nahmad is also the 1996 Backgammon World Champion[8] and is known for betting large amounts of money on the game.


  1. ^ "Forbes profile: David Nahmad". Forbes. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
  2. ^ a b [1] Archived April 14, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ a b Peter Aspden (December 21, 2012), Art dealer who bought and sold with immaculate timing Financial Times.
  4. ^ Jackie Wullschlager (November 11, 2011), Lunch with the FT: Helly Nahmad Financial Times.
  5. ^ L.), Thornton, Sarah (Sarah. Seven days in the art world. New York. ISBN 9780393337129. OCLC 489232834.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Estate Sues Nahmad Gallery Network for Modigliani Portrait". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-01-09.
  7. ^ Katrin Langhans, Frederik Obermaier, Bastian Obermayer, Kia Vahland: Panama Painting. Über einen von den Nazis geraubten Modigliani, der vor seinem rechtmäßigen Eigentümer versteckt wird. Süddeutsche Zeitung, April 9, 2016, p. 11-13, listing the whereabouts of the painting since 1930.
  8. ^ "Backgammon Hall of Fame". Bkgm.com. Retrieved 2013-09-15.