Andre Zarre NYC art dealer cuts family out of will – leaves entire million dollar fortune to Queens deli worker Jose Jeje as shocked relatives now consider legal avenues.
The family of a wealthy New York City art dealer who recently passed away are considering taking legal action after learning the deceased man leaving his million dollar fortune to a Queens deli worker who became his companion and ‘caretaker’ during his dying months.
Andre Zarre, who died in July at the age of 78, was one of the city’s top contemporary art dealers and owned galleries in the Upper East Side and Chelsea.
The Polish-born businessman lived in a luxury apartment on Park Avenue, steps close to ritzy 5th & Madison Avenue.
He also counted a who’s who of socialites as friends, including Gloria Vanderbilt, Jerzy Kosinski, Joyce Carol Oates and Emilie Benes Brzezinski.
Zarre, whose assets are believed to be worth millions of dollars, was not married and did not have children.
A good eye for evaluating art- but a terrible eye for evaluating fake friends & hustlers?
‘Zarre had a real ‘eye’ and was a champion of abstract art from the moment he founded his gallery,’ artist Dana Gordon wrote in a tribute penned shortly after his death.
Also praising the art dealer’s virtues was painter Pat Lipsky.
Offered the artist via the nypost: ‘He is unprecedented in my experience. He had really good taste, but he could also do things that were really bizarre’.
One of those ‘things’ reportedly included a decision to invest in Palermo Delicatessen in Glendale, Queens in October of last year.
Glendale – a working-class neighborhood- is a far cry from Zarre’s posh Park Avenue pad and the affluent areas of Manhattan with which he was usually associated.
Nick Wolfson, an artist and close friend, told the nypost that he was worried when he heard about Zarre’s plans to become involved with the deli. At the time, Zarre’s health had been rapidly deteriorating and he was beginning to go blind.
‘I never understood why he would get involved in anything except art,’ Wolfson said.
Was an ailing vulnerable man taken advantage of for his wealth?
‘He was vulnerable. He was really going blind and could barely put one foot in front of the other.’
However, Zarre had struck up a friendship with one of the deli’s countermen – a 50-year-old man by the name of Jose Yeje – whom he had reportedly met back in 2016.
Yeje is a married father of four who claims he is a co-owner of the Palermo Deli.
Told Yeje via the nypost, ‘I met him in Valley Stream over an ice cream deal. I was the wholesaler and he wanted to be a distributor.’
Although the deal fell through, the two became friends, said Yeje. ‘He was an awesome person,’ he said, adding that he eventually became his ‘caretaker’ when Zarre’s health went into further decline and he started to close up his gallery business.’
One frequent visitor said she saw Zarre at the premises up to six times a week.
Hustled out of a multi million dollar inheritance?
Yeje also helped Zarre around his Park Avenue apartment.
‘He had bad knees, he couldn’t walk and he had heart problems, diabetes and gout,’ Yeje told The Post.
‘I washed him, I bought his groceries and fed him. He trusted me and I took care of him. He was almost on the verge of coming to live with me in my home. We talked about it a lot.’
However, friends and family of Zarre paint a more opportunistic picture of the dedicated deli worker.
‘Zarre only knew the guy [Yeje] for the last eight months, if that. Nobody liked him here. … He just took over his life,’ a worker at Zarre’s Park Avenue complex stated.
On July 6, Zarre reportedly signed a will making Yeje his sole inheritor.
Just nine days later, Zarre died following a fall at his home on July 15.
A short time later, Yeje called the art dealer’s cousin in England to tell him he was the sole inheritor of his estate.
‘I was shocked,’ the cousin told The Post. ‘For more than 30 years, he said that he would leave us everything. He never told us he had changed his will.
The relative said he had last spoken to Zarre on July 6 — the same day he signed a will making Yeje his sole beneficiary. But the subject never came up.
‘We can’t believe that he did this,’ told Tomasik via the nypost, adding that Zarre took care of his brother, Krysztof, who is institutionalized in Poland. ‘It’s not possible.’
Last month, Yeje sent a letter to that cousin ‘offering $45,000 cash and land that Zarre owned in Poland in exchange for not challenging the will’.
Zarre’s cousins and other family members say they are considering legal action, saying they believe he has much more money in other accounts, as well as an art collection in storage that could fetch into the millions.