Man Arrested in Connection With Death of Art Dealer Brent Sikkema

Brent Sikkema (photo courtesy Sikkema Jenkins & Company)

Police in Rio de Janeiro have arrested a man in connection with the suspected murder of Brent Sikkema, a New York art dealer and founder of Sikkema Jenkins & Company gallery who was found dead in his residence in the city’s Jardim Botânico neighborhood earlier this week.

According to a statement provided to Hyperallergic by Rio’s Capital Homicide Police (DHC), the suspect was apprehended at a gas station between the cities of Uberaba and Uberlândia, in the state of Minas Gerais, and is being investigated for armed robbery and possible premeditated murder.

“The police identified that the man was in São Paulo before committing the crime,” the police statement reads. “He returned to São Paulo after the murder. From then on, he began to move around and was captured today by DHC.”

DHC Brazilian newspapers identified the suspect as 30-year-old Alejandro Triana Trevez, originally from Cuba, and report that he was in possession of jewelry and cash equivalent to around $36,400 between dollars and Brazilian reais, presumably stolen from Sikkema.

The body was reportedly discovered by Sikkema’s lawyer and friend Simone Nunes, who had keys to the residence, on the night of Monday, January 15. Sikkema had 18 stab wounds suspected to have been caused by an object such as scissors or a box cutter.

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Security cameras captured a man parked outside Brent Sikkema’s residence. (screenshot Valentina Di Liscia/Hyperallergic from video courtesy Empresa de Segurança Gabriel)

Security footage from cameras outside Sikkema’s building in the early hours of Sunday, January 14 showed a man exiting a vehicle parked in front of the property from the passenger side around 3:42am. He entered the residence and exited approximately 14 minutes later. The man can be seen removing a pair of gloves, a notable detail since it is summer in Brazil, reentering the car on the driver’s side, and driving away at around 4:02am.

Empresa de Segurança Gabriel, the security firm that captured the videos, told Hyperallergic that the car had been parked outside the residence for 14 hours.

Sikkema, 75, started his New York gallery as Wooster Gardens in Manhattan’s Soho neighborhood in 1991. He relocated to Chelsea in 1996 and brought on a partner, Michael Jenkins, in 2003. Sikkema Jenkins & Company is known for its longtime relationships with artists such as Sheila Hicks, Vik Muniz, and Kara Walker, who posted a photo of her and Sikkema on Instagram along with a heartfelt caption.

Many other friends and colleagues have shared tributes to Sikkema in the past days, describing him as kind, generous, and wholly committed to the artists he worked with, including several from Brazil.

“I learned a lot of things from him,” Brazilian artist Luiz Zerbini told G1. “He was in love with Rio and wanted to live here. It’s sad that something so bad happened in the city he loved. He was passionate about Brazilian art, with a wonderful sense of humor, a happy person. Tragic news for the international art scene.”

Ela Bittencourt contributed reporting.

Editor’s note 1/18/24 12:35pm EST: This article has been updated with new details about the suspect.

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