NYC art dealer leaves fortune to deli worker in Queens

NYC art dealer leaves fortune to deli worker in Queens

At the height of his fame in the New York art world of the 1970s and ’80s, Andre Zarre was a primary up to date dealer who partied with city’s literati and worldwide elites, along with Gloria Vanderbilt, Jerzy Kosinski, and Joyce Carol Oates.

He lived in an expensive development on Park Avenue and ran eponymous galleries on the Upper East Side, Soho, and Chelsea. Friends say he amassed a big assortment of art that might probably be value hundreds and hundreds, established a gallery in Brussels, and was developing a model new art space in his native Poland, the place he is correctly referred to as a poet.

“He wanted to create an American-style gallery and place his collection of paintings in Poland,” talked about Czeslaw Czaplinski, a Princeton-based photographer and longtime buddy who was collaborating with Zarre on an book. “He was getting ready to go to Poland when I spoke to him.”

That phone dialog, which took place in the summer time season, will be their remaining. On July 15, Zarre died after falling in his home, barely a month after his 78th birthday.

Three days after his lack of life, Zarre’s first cousin in England obtained a curious title from New York.

Jose Yeje, a counterman at a deli in Queens, launched himself due to the executor of Zarre’s will and the one beneficiary to his multi-million buck property.

Andrzej Lech Sowulewski was born in Suwalki, a metropolis of just about 70,00 in northeastern Poland in June 1942. There is little recognition of his adolescence. Friends say his mother was a socialite who died when she was 40 years earlier. His father, John Sowelewski, was born in the US and launched his son to Chicago, the place he enrolled him in college in 1959. He has a youthful brother who has spent most of his life institutionalized in Poland.  By 1973, Sowulewski had modified his title to Andre Zarre and moved to New York City, the place he established his first gallery a yr later.

“Zarre had a real ‘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 were always spacious and unpretentious, oriented simply to show the art.”

In 1981, he moved to the Fuller development at 41 East 57th St., the place city’s most crucial galleries had been positioned. He confirmed art by Vanderbilt and pictures by “Being There” creator Kosinski. He partied with Nobel laureate Joseph Brodsky and diplomats from all around the world. He was buddies with Zbigniew Brzezinski, whose partner Emilie Benes Brzezinski, a sculptor, was amongst his regular of artists. Brzezinski, who died in 2017, was President Jimmy Carter’s National Security advisor and a counselor to President Lyndon Johnson. He was the daddy of journalist Mika Brzezinski Scarborough.

Andre Zarre
Andre ZarreCzeslaw Czaplinski

Zarre was among the many many first gallerists to champion the work of the most recent women painters, along with Ellen Banks, Dee Shapiro, Elena Borstein, and Pat Lipsky. He moreover collected works by Irene Rice Pereira, a abstract painter, and poet who had a crucial impact on stylish art in the US sooner than her lack of life in 1971. Most of his artists would go on to have their works included in the eternal collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney.

“He was always following things very acutely,” talked about Lipsky, 79, together with that Zarre had two of her work in his assortment. “He is unprecedented in my experience, but he could also be strange.” In 1990, when he was serving to Lipsky maintain her work for a gift, he was happy that his palms had been being poisoned by the frames, she talked about.

“He had really good taste, but he could also do things that were really bizarre,” she talked about.

In addition to preparing art reveals and writing poetry, Zarre was on a regular basis trying to find new enterprise alternate options, buddies suggested The Post. He as quickly as tried to champion Polish delicacies by investing in a meals truck, they talked about.

“I never understood why he would get involved in anything except art,” talked about Nick Wolfson, a New York- and Puerto Rico-based artist who was represented by Zarre, whom he moreover thought-about an in-depth buddy. “He was a very capable art dealer who was very respected in the art world, but the food truck was a disaster.”

When Zarre suggested Wolfson that he was searching for a deli in Queens and coping with Yeje remaining yr, Wolfson talked about he was shocked and a bit bit fearful. By then, Zarre was in failing nicely being and virtually blind — easy prey for a hustler, he talked about. “I realized that Andre was vulnerable,” recalled Wolfson, 76. “He was really going blind and could barely put one foot in front of the other. I asked if he had any plans for his estate.”

But Zarre, who was “very guarded and private,” in accordance with Wolfson, shrugged him off, even after Wolfson launched him to a lawyer buddy who urged him to create a will. Instead, on Oct. 19, 2019, Zarre turned sole incorporator of the Palermo Delicatessen in Glendale. Yeje was put in the price of the Myrtle Avenue operation, which he suggested The Post he co-owned.

“He asked me to send Yeje some of my paintings so they could hang them in the deli,” Wolfson suggested The Post, together with that it was the first time he turned acutely aware of Yeje. “I guess Andre was trying to make the deli more upmarket and sophisticated, but I thought, ‘Who is this guy? Is it safe to send my paintings?’”

Yeje, 50, is a married entrepreneur who lives collectively along with his partner and 4 children in Ozone Park. He runs an ice-cream wholesale enterprise and has grow to be enterprise companions with Zarre in the deli, he talked about. Yeje talked about he first met Zarre in 2016:  “I met him in Valley Stream over an ice cream deal,” he talked about. “I was the wholesaler and he wanted to be a distributor.”

Although the deal fell by means of, the 2 turned buddies, talked about Yeje. “He was an awesome person,” he talked about, together with that he finally turned his “caretaker” when Zarre’s well-being went into extra decline and he started to shut up his gallery enterprise.

“He had bad knees, he couldn’t walk and he had heart problems, diabetes, and gout,” talked about Yeje. “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.”

At the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Zarre examined constructive for COVID and began experiencing increased points collectively along with his coronary coronary heart. He has rushed to Lenox Hill Hospital the place docs put in a pacemaker, Yeje talked about.

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

 – Jose Yeje

Jeanette Malaty, a lawyer whose work is subsequent to the Palermo Deli, recalled seeing Zarre six days each week when she would stop in to buy her morning espresso.

“Jose would order an automobile service for him to come daily, and generally Andre would go to sleep together with his head on the desk in the again,” talked about Malaty.

She talked about Zarre approached her in January to draw up a will. She suggested The Post that she requested him for a list of belongings nonetheless by the purpose she was ready to draft the will, she was compelled to shut down her office due to the pandemic.

According to buddies and among the many artists he represented, Zarre closed down his Chelsea gallery — the ultimate one he owned in city — when his nicely being began to fail a variety of years in the previous. He had among the many art he had acquired by means of the years in his home, nonetheless had moreover put an superior deal in storage, talked about a buddy who did not want to be acknowledged.

“I can’t comment on the will,” talked about Malaty, together with that she did not draft it although she talked about she has seen a reproduction. The copy of the will that The Post thought-about did not embrace a list of the art dealer’s belongings.

“I am not going to talk about any of his assets because it’s all confidential,” talked about Malaty. “All I can tell you is that Jose was the closest person in his life. I saw it myself.”

But neighbors and workers at Zarre’s Park Avenue developing the place he lived for 32 years suggested The Post that Yeje solely started to come spherical in the ultimate a variety of months of Zarre’s life. “He only knew the guy for the last eight months, if that,” talked about a developing maintenance worker who did not want to be acknowledged. “Nobody liked him here. … He just took over his life.”

Still, on July 15, when Zarre was rushed to hospital after falling in his restroom, it was Yeje who was referred to as by developing administration and it was Yeje who was entrusted with the care of the gallerist’s beloved 12-year-old cat Cappuccino.

“They called me from the building, and while I was in the process of driving over there in my car, Andre had a heart attack,” talked about Yeje, whose signature appears on Zarre’s lack of life certificates the place he claims to be the art dealer’s nephew.

Shortly after Zarre’s lack of life, Yeje contacted Zarre’s cousin in England, informing him that Zarre had died and that he was now the art dealer’s sole heir.

“I was shocked,” talked about Arkadiusz Tomasik, speaking by means of his son Daniel, who translated from the Polish. “For more than 30 years, he said that he would leave us everything. He never told us he had changed his will.”

Tomasik suggested The Post that he lastly spoke to Zarre on July 6 — the similar day he signed a will making Yeje his sole beneficiary. But the subject not at all obtained right here up.

“We can’t believe that he did this,” talked about Tomasik, together with that Zarre took care of his brother, Krysztof, who’s institutionalized in Poland.  “It’s not possible.”

Others who knew the art dealer moreover had questions.

“How did he sign his name? Did he know what he was signing and how did he get to Queens?” talked about Phillys Dubrow, a Manhattan trusts and estates authorized skilled who had urged Zarre to make a will years sooner than, and represented him in a failed licensed movement to recoup thought-about certainly one of his artist’s estates a variety of years in the previous.

“This can’t be,” talked about one different longtime buddy in the Park Avenue developing. “Andre was legally blind. We used to take his finger to help him sign his checks.”

Yeje refused to contact upon the will, the place he is listed as “friend/caretaker” to Zarre. “He always gave me instructions with people I needed to call after his death,” talked about Yeje. “And I have called all of them.”

On Sept. 21, Yeje despatched a notarized letter to Tomasik offering cash and land that Zarre owned in Poland in commerce for not troublesome the will.

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

Tomasik talked about that he suspects that Zarre had an superior deal additional in cash in Polish accounts, and the family is considering licensed movement. This shocked Malaty and Yeje, who talked about they’ve had nothing nonetheless cordial conversations with Tomasik.

After his lack of life, Zarre’s stays had been despatched to the Fresh Pond Crematory in Middle Village, in accordance with the lack of life certificates thought-about by The Post. Yeje talked about he couldn’t preserve a funeral and invite Zarre’s buddies due to the coronavirus pandemic. But he talked about he had promised his family in England that he would ship them a portion of Zarre’s ashes.

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