A suspect has been arrested in connection with the brutal murder in Brazil of an American art dealer who co-owned a prominent Manhattan gallery, police said Thursday.
Brent Sikkema, 75, was found dead on Monday in his apartment in Rio de Janeiro with 18 stab wounds on his body.
Rio state police detained a man they identified as Alejandro Triana Trevez near the city of Uberaba, in the neighboring state of Minas Gerais. The man, who according to local media is Cuban, is a fugitive and was found while resting at a gas station.
According to the police, Trevez allegedly took $3,000 from Sikkema’s apartment. The director of the homicide unit of the state police, Felipe Curi, told the CBN Rio radio station that the hypothesis is managed that it was a robbery that resulted in a murder.
“The preliminary results of our investigation show that Alejandro (Trevez) came from Sao Paulo specifically to commit this crime,” said Curi. He then returned to Sao Paulo, leading investigators to believe he had “some kind of inside information.”
Police obtained a 30-day detention order for Trevez, which Curi said will allow him to explore other leads and answer questions such as whether the two men knew each other.
Sikkema Jenkins & Co., founded in 1991, exhibits works by Jeffrey Gibson, Arturo Herrera, Sheila Hicks, Vik Muniz, Kara Walker and other artists on Manhattan’s 22nd Street near Chelsea Piers.
Sikkema began his career in 1971 at the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, New York, a nonprofit organization dedicated to arts education where he was director of exhibitions. He opened his first gallery in Boston in 1976.
In 2021, during a trip to Zurich, Sikkema called himself “a little messy person” on Instagram and said that his favorite destinations were Brazil and Cuba.
Brazilian artist Vik Muniz, whose work is exhibited at the Sikkema gallery, paid tribute to the great “people” of his friend.
“I have spent over thirty years of my life trying in vain to emulate her juggling act of fearlessness, kindness and goodness,” Muniz wrote under a photo of his mother and Sikkema that he -post this week on Instagram. “Brent hides his flaws with humor, with the same grace that he hides his great talent behind humility.”
“I owe him a lot of who I am as an artist, and with him, part of that seems to be gone forever,” Muniz wrote.