Wednesday, May 06, 2020

How a Syrian-Lebanese Jew became a master of the arts

It was in 1947, when violent anti-Jewish riots broke out in Aleppo Syria, that the scion of the Nahmad family, Hillel, fled to Lebanon and thence to Italy. L'Orient-le jour tells how Hillel became a self-made millionaire and one of the most successful of modern-art gallery-owners and dealers. (With thanks: Nagi)



Hillel's son David, who runs the family art-dealing business in Milan (Photo: Getty images)

Many Alépins take the road to Lebanon, among them Hilel Nahmad, his wife Mathilde Youssef Safra, as well as their children Denise, Albert, Joseph, Jacqueline, Nadia, Évelyne and Ezra. They settle in Wadi Abou Jmil, where David, the future great collector, will be born a few days later ", tells L'Orient-Le Jour the historian specialist in the question of the Jews in Lebanon, Nagi Georges Zeidan, including one work on the history of the Jews in Lebanon will be published soon. Hillel, who had founded the Nahmad and Beyda bank in Aleppo, had lost everything.  In Beirut, he starts from scratch.

He opened a currency exchange office on Khan Chouni Street, near Allenby. “His job was to buy Sanadat (letters of credit) at three-quarters of their value; he then negotiated them at full price, after their pre-emption dates ”, relates Mr. Zeidan, also stressing that the families who left Aleppo in a hurry only had their identity papers but no passport. Many of them have never been able to obtain a Lebanese residence permit or nationality. "However, thanks to the initiative of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Iranian passports will be issued by his embassy in Beirut to allow them to travel.

"This document did not give them the right to go to Iran or to request their inclusion on a consular electoral list," said the historian. thanks to the initiative of shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Iranian passports will be issued by his embassy in Beirut to allow them to travel. "This document did not give them the right to go to Iran or to request their inclusion on a consular electoral list," said the historian. thanks to the initiative of shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Iranian passports will be issued by his embassy in Beirut to allow them to travel.

"This document did not give them the right to go to Iran or to request their inclusion on a consular electoral list," said the historian. In the sixties, with their Iranian passports in their pockets, Hilel Nahmad and his family moved to Milan where they obtained Italian nationality. Hilel died in the metropolitan area of​​Lombardy in 1985.

Read article in full (French)

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