Brazilian police investigating the murder of Brent Sikkema, a prominent New York art dealer found stabbed to death last month in his Rio de Janeiro apartment, are now seeking the arrest of her husband, Daniel Sikkema.
It is a shocking twist in a case that has captivated the art world. Brent Sikkema represented many leading contemporary artists, and his gallery was preparing to help one of them, Jeffrey Gibson, represent the United States this spring at the Venice Biennale, the most prestigious exhibition in the world.
Daniel Sikkema’s lawyer, Fabiana Marques, said he was innocent and remained in New York, where he was “shocked” by the latest developments.
When Brent Sikkema was found murdered in Rio, investigators said at least $40,000 was stolen. After recovering surveillance footage that they said showed his former bodyguard, a 30-year-old man named Alejandro Triana Prevez, entering and leaving the house, they arrested Mr. Prevez about 600 miles to the northwest from the city. (Police initially identified Mr. Prevez by the last name Trevez.)
Mr. Prevez’s lawyer, Gregorio Andrade, said Mr. Prevez claimed that Daniel Sikkema offered him $200,000 to carry out the assassination. “He manipulated my client,” Mr. Andrade said.
The Sikkemas have been married for nearly 15 years but have been engaged in divorce proceedings since 2022, which included a dispute over custody arrangements for their son, who is now 13.
Daniel Sikkema’s lawyer, Ms Marques, said her client was innocent of the murder. “It is important to note that Daniel did not have the opportunity to be interviewed by the police, although he proactively offered himself for questioning by email,” she said.
She questioned Mr. Prévez’s account. “Alejandro’s strategy of accusing someone of being the mastermind of the crime, especially while surrounded by his lawyers, is clearly aimed at obtaining a more lenient sentence,” she argued.
It was rare to see Daniel Sikkema at the openings and closings of exhibitions organized by her husband, according to the art dealer’s friends. He emigrated to the United States after a difficult childhood in Cuba and early adulthood as a male escort in Spain. He chronicled the trip in a 2006 autobiography called “Ticket to Paradise,” which described how he escaped the island and made a living.
One evening shortly after Brent Sikkema was found dead, Daniel Sikkema posted a photo on social media of a black rose, where he was given his birth name, Daniel García Carrera. He then wrote a short article in Spanish to express his grief. “Our son and I cry for you without tears, we cry for you in the way that hurts the most,” he said.
The art dealer’s friends continue to mourn his death.
“His heart was in art,” said Arlene Shechet, an artist represented by Brent Sikkema’s gallery, Sikkema Jenkins & Co., for several years. “Being a businessman was never his inspiration.”
Former Artforum editor David Velasco had become close to Brent Sikkema and was planning to visit the Rio dealer when he learned of the murder. Mr Velasco said Brent Sikkema was delighted when he saw him after his son was born.
“He was a friend and, in a way, a father figure,” Mr. Velasco said.
“Every part of this,” he added, “is so heartbreaking. »
Ana Ionova contributed reporting from Rio de Janeiro.