NYC art dealer leaves fortune to deli worker in Queens

At the height of his fame in the New York artwork globe of the 1970s and ’80s, Andre Zarre was a major contemporary seller who partied with the city’s literati and worldwide elites, together with Gloria Vanderbilt, Jerzy Kosinski and Joyce Carol Oates.

He lived in a luxury developing on Park Avenue and ran eponymous galleries on the Higher East Aspect, Soho and Chelsea. Close friends say he amassed a sizable collection of art that could be really worth millions, established a gallery in Brussels and was creating a new art space in his native Poland, exactly where he is nicely recognised as a poet.

“He required to make an American-style gallery and location his selection of paintings in Poland,” claimed Czeslaw Czaplinski, a Princeton-based photographer and longtime pal who was collaborating with Zarre on a e-book. “He was having ready to go to Poland when I spoke to him.”

That cellular phone discussion, which took location in the summertime, would be their previous. On July 15, Zarre died following falling in his apartment, barely a month just after his 78th birthday.

A few days following his death, Zarre’s to start with cousin in England gained a curious get in touch with from New York.

Jose Yeje, a counterman at a deli in Queens, launched himself as the executor of Zarre’s will and the sole beneficiary to his multi-million greenback estate.

Andrzej Lech Sowulewski was born in Suwalki, a city of practically 70,00 in northeastern Poland in June 1942. There is minor recognised about his early daily life. Good friends say his mother was a socialite who died when she was 40 yrs aged. His father, John Sowelewski, was born in the US and introduced his son to Chicago, where he enrolled him in college in 1959. He has a youthful brother who has expended most of his daily life institutionalized in Poland.  By 1973, Sowulewski had improved his name to Andre Zarre and moved to New York Metropolis, where by he recognized his first gallery a year later.

“Zarre had a genuine ‘eye’ and was a champion of abstract art from the moment he founded his gallery,” wrote artist Dana Gordon in The New Criterion in August. “His galleries ended up normally spacious and unpretentious, oriented basically to display the artwork.”

In 1981, he moved to the Fuller developing at 41 East 57th St., where by the city’s most vital galleries had been positioned. He confirmed art by Vanderbilt and images by “Being There” creator Kosinski. He partied with Nobel laureate Joseph Brodsky and diplomats from around the earth. He was good friends with Zbigniew Brzezinski, whose spouse Emilie Benes Brzezinski, a sculptor, was amongst his steady of artists. Brzezinski, who died in 2017, was President Jimmy Carter’s Countrywide Safety advisor and a counselor to President Lyndon Johnson. He was the father of journalist Mika Brzezinski Scarborough.

Andre Zarre
Andre ZarreCzesaw Czapliski

Zarre was among the the very first gallerists to champion the function of modern day women painters, including Ellen Banking companies, Dee Shapiro, Elena Borstein and Pat Lipsky. He also collected performs by Irene Rice Pereira, an abstract painter and poet who experienced an critical influence on modern-day art in the US in advance of her demise in 1971. Most of his artists would go on to have their performs involved in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern day Artwork and the Whitney.

“He was normally adhering to issues really acutely,” mentioned Lipsky, 79, incorporating that Zarre had two of her paintings in his collection. “He is unparalleled in my experience, but he could also be strange.” In 1990, when he was encouraging Lipsky hang her paintings for a present, he was convinced that his palms were being staying poisoned by the frames, she mentioned.

“He had actually good style, but he could also do factors that were seriously bizarre,” she explained.

In addition to planning artwork shows and crafting poetry, Zarre was always on the lookout for new business chances, close friends informed The Put up. He as soon as tried to winner Polish cuisine by investing in a foods truck, they explained.

“I in no way comprehended why he would get concerned in anything at all besides artwork,” mentioned Nick Wolfson, a New York- and Puerto Rico-dependent artist who was represented by Zarre, whom he also thought of a close mate. “He was a really capable art seller who was quite highly regarded in the art globe, but the meals truck was a catastrophe.”

When Zarre informed Wolfson that he was buying a deli in Queens and operating with Yeje previous yr, Wolfson explained he was amazed and a small concerned. By then, Zarre was in failing health and almost blind — simple prey for a hustler, he reported. “I understood that Andre was vulnerable,” recalled Wolfson, 76. “He was actually likely blind and could barely put a single foot in entrance of the other. I questioned if he experienced any programs for his estate.”

But Zarre, who was “very guarded and private,” in accordance to Wolfson, shrugged him off, even following Wolfson launched him to a law firm buddy who urged him to make a will. As an alternative, on Oct. 19, 2019, Zarre became sole incorporator of the Palermo Delicatessen in Glendale. Yeje was put in demand of the Myrtle Avenue procedure, which he advised The Put up he co-owned.

“He asked me to mail Yeje some of my paintings so they could cling them in the deli,” Wolfson advised The Write-up, incorporating that it was the 1st time he turned aware of Yeje. “I guess Andre was trying to make the deli much more upmarket and sophisticated, but I imagined, ‘Who is this person? Is it safe and sound to deliver my paintings?’”

Yeje, 50, is a married entrepreneur who life with his spouse and 4 small children in Ozone Park. He runs an ice-product wholesale organization and turned enterprise partners with Zarre in the deli, he explained. Yeje reported he 1st fulfilled Zarre in 2016:  “I fulfilled him in Valley Stream in excess of an ice product offer,” he explained. “I was the wholesaler and he desired to be a distributor.”

Even though the offer fell as a result of, the two turned buddies, said Yeje. “He was an great particular person,” he mentioned, including that he at some point turned his “caretaker” when Zarre’s well being went into even further decrease and he begun to near up his gallery company.

“He had poor knees, he couldn’t wander and he had coronary heart troubles, diabetes and gout,” stated Yeje. “I washed him, I acquired his groceries and fed him. He trusted me and I took treatment of him. He was pretty much on the verge of coming to are living with me in my household. We talked about it a whole lot.”

At the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Zarre analyzed beneficial for COVID and commenced experiencing larger challenges with his coronary heart. He was rushed to Lenox Hill Healthcare facility where by doctors installed a pacemaker, Yeje stated.

“I washed him [Zarre], I purchased his groceries and fed him. He reliable me and I took care of him.

 – Jose Yeje

Jeanette Malaty, a attorney whose office environment is subsequent to the Palermo Deli, recalled observing Zarre six days a 7 days when she would stop in to purchase her morning coffee.

“Jose would buy a car or truck services for him to come every day, and in some cases Andre would tumble asleep with his head on the desk in the again,” explained Malaty.

She explained Zarre approached her in January to attract up a will. She instructed The Article that she asked him for a record of property but by the time she was completely ready to draft the will, she was forced to shut down her business office due to the pandemic.

According to friends and some of the artists he represented, Zarre shut down his Chelsea gallery — the final a person he owned in the city — when his wellbeing began to fail a couple of decades in the past. He experienced some of the art he had obtained about the many years in his condominium, but had also put a wonderful deal in storage, claimed a buddy who did not want to be recognized.

“I just cannot comment on the will,” reported Malaty, introducing that she did not draft it despite the fact that she reported she has found a duplicate. The copy of the will that The Article seen did not include an inventory of the artwork dealer’s property.

“I am not likely to converse about any of his assets mainly because it is all confidential,” mentioned Malaty. “All I can tell you is that Jose was the closest individual in his daily life. I observed it myself.”

But neighbors and employees at Zarre’s Park Avenue constructing wherever he lived for 32 several years advised The Article that Yeje only commenced to appear all over in the final a number of months of Zarre’s life. “He only knew the person for the final eight months, if that,” claimed a setting up upkeep employee who did not want to be discovered. No person appreciated him right here. … He just took around his life.”

Nonetheless, on July 15, when Zarre was rushed to healthcare facility immediately after slipping in his toilet, it was Yeje who was called by constructing management and it was Yeje who was entrusted with the treatment of the gallerist’s beloved 12-year-old cat Cappuccino.

“They known as me from the developing, and even though I was in the method of driving above there in my vehicle, Andre experienced a heart assault,” reported Yeje, whose signature seems on Zarre’s loss of life certification exactly where he claims to be the art dealer’s nephew.

Shortly right after Zarre’s dying, Yeje contacted Zarre’s cousin in England, informing him that Zarre had died and that he was now the artwork dealer’s sole heir.

“I was shocked,” explained Arkadiusz Tomasik, speaking by means of his son Daniel, who translated from the Polish. “For extra than 30 yrs, he reported that he would depart us every little thing. He never instructed us he experienced changed his will.”

Tomasik advised The Publish that he past spoke to Zarre on July 6 — the exact day he signed a will making Yeje his sole beneficiary. But the topic never arrived up.

“We can not believe that that he did this,” said Tomasik, incorporating that Zarre took treatment of his brother, Krysztof, who is institutionalized in Poland.  “It’s not attainable.”

Other folks who knew the artwork vendor also had queries.

“How did he sign his title? Did he know what he was signing and how did he get to Queens?” claimed Phillys Dubrow, a Manhattan trusts and estates lawyer who had urged Zarre to make a will years prior to, and represented him in a unsuccessful legal action to recoup one particular of his artist’s estates a number of a long time ago.

“This just cannot be,” explained a further longtime buddy in the Park Avenue making. “Andre was lawfully blind. We utilized to choose his finger to assistance him indicator his checks.”

Yeje refused remark on the will, where by he is outlined as “friend/caretaker” to Zarre. “He usually gave me recommendations with men and women I required to connect with immediately after his death,” stated Yeje. “And I have called all of them.”

On Sept. 21, Yeje sent a notarized letter to Tomasik giving income and land that Zarre owned in Poland in exchange for not challenging the will.

“Also I will give to them a sum of $45,000 from bank account in Poland upon signature demanded for a non-contest of will which is attached to this doc,” stated the assertion that Malaty notarized viewed by The Post.

Tomasik said that he suspects that Zarre experienced a great deal more in dollars in Polish accounts, and the relatives is taking into consideration lawful motion. This shocked Malaty and Yeje, who said they have experienced absolutely nothing but cordial discussions with Tomasik.

Immediately after his dying, Zarre’s stays were being sent to the Refreshing Pond Crematory in Center Village, in accordance to the death certification considered by The Publish. Yeje mentioned he couldn’t keep a funeral and invite Zarre’s friends since of the coronavirus pandemic. But he claimed he had promised his spouse and children in England that he would deliver them a portion of Zarre’s ashes.

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