Alejandro Triana Prevez, the 30-year-old Cuban man who confessed to the murder of New York–based art dealer Brent Sikkema, may have had close ties to Sikkema’s ex-husband, according to Prevez’s lawyer, Greg Andrade. Per Andrade, Prevez said Sikkema’s murder was not his idea but planned by an unidentified third party.

Shortly after his arrest, Prevez told his lawyers that he did not commit the murder and believed he may have been drugged after ordering a drink at a nearby restaurant shortly before Sikkema was killed.

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In a recorded message sent by Andrade to Artnet News, Daniel Sikkema groomed Prevez and took advantage of his dire financial situation, desperate need of a father figure, and the fact that both his grandfather and his mother had recently passed away, the latter from cancer which was discovered around the time of Prevez’s own grandfather’s death in 2020. 

In another recorded message Andrade provided to Artnet, Prevez’s sister called the confessed killer “easy to manipulate” and “economically and emotionally weak.” The sister, who remains anonymous, said Prevez left Cuba for Brazil after his mother’s death, but found himself isolated in a foreign country with few prospects and fewer friends. 

Daniel Sikkema, who is also Cuban, allegedly met Prevez sometime in 2021. After learning the young man wanted to emigrate from Cuba, Daniel Sikkema began showering Prevez with “large amounts of money” and the “promise of financial improvement,” the sister said, and may have hinted at the possibility of helping Prevez gain US citizenship, though she admits she doesn’t know the details of the many conversations the two had. 

“Alejandro is in Brazil, he starts talking to Daniel… and Daniel gives him an easier way,” the sister says in the recording.

Brent Sikkema, 75, was killed on January 15 in his apartment in Rio de Janeiro. According to an autopsy report, he suffered 18 stab wounds from a sharp object, possibly scissors or a box cutter, across his face and chest. There were no defensive injuries.

His gallery, Sikkema Jenkins and Co., represents the artist Jeffrey Gibson, who will be featured in the United States pavilion at the forthcoming Venice Biennale, and Kara Walker, who had her first New York solo show with the gallery in 1995. Anohni, Tony Feher, Louis Fratino, and Sheila Hicks are also on the gallery’s roster.

On January 18, after authorities were able to obtain a warrant for his arrest through security camera footage outside Sikkema’s home, Prevez was arrested at a gas station about 600 miles away from Rio de Janeiro. 

According to testimony given to police by Simone Nunes, Sikkema’s lawyer in Brazil, the art dealer and his ex-husband often visited “gay saunas” in Copacabana and on Rua Candido Mendes. Nunes implied that she had spoken to Daniel Sikkema since the murder, and that he said he “could try to identify the perpetrator of the events, [adding] that he knew many ‘boys’ in the saunas but not their names.”

Nunes also claims that Sikkema was fond of bringing young sex workers back to his home, and had fallen in love with a particular boy he’d met before Christmas. An Uber driver who picked up Sikkema in the days before he was killed told police that the art dealer made a video call with a “young man with brown skin” and ended the call with the words “I love you,” according to O Globo.

Police believe that Prevez’s ultimate motive was robbery. Sikkema had recently purchased a new home in Rio de Janeiro and had allegedly brought $40,000 in cash with him to Brazil from the United States which was slated for new furniture and moving expenses. 

According to Artnet News, Andrade said Prevez stole jewelry and around $9,500 in US and Brazilian currency from Sikkema’s home. “We have no doubt that it was a premeditated crime,” said Alexandre Herdy of the Capital Homicide Police. “What remains are doubts about the purpose of the crime, whether it was stealing or whether there was another motive.”

A report in the Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo, Sikkema has been seeking permission via the court system to see the son he shared with his ex-husband. According to Sikkema’s close friends in New York who spoke to Folha, the art dealer was distraught because Daniel Sikkema refused an amicable divorce and was demanding a $6 million settlement and a hefty allowance before he would grant visitation rights.