Andre Zarre changed his will just nine days before passing away. His family refused to believe it.
The family of a New York art-dealer was shocked after they realized he had given away all his wealth to his caretaker.
According to Daily Mail, Andre Zarre—a famous contemporary art dealer in the city—left his millions worth of fortune to Jose Yeje, a deli worker at Palermo Delicatessen in Glendale, Queens. The unmarried man with no children made Yeje his sole inheritor just nine days before passing away at the age of 78. Following his death on 15 July 2020, his family was left stunned by the news.
Allegedly, Yeje was Zarre’s caretaker during his last days. The 50-year-old met Zarre in 2016; eventually, the two developed a friendship. “I met him in Valley Stream over an ice cream deal. I was the wholesaler and he wanted to be a distributor,” said Yeje, according to the New York Post. He added, “He was an awesome person.”
When Zarre’s health began to decline, Yeje assisted him with everything he needed. “He had bad knees, he couldn’t walk and he had heart problems, diabetes, and gout. 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,” recalled Yeje, the father of four.
Meanwhile, neighbors and workers at Zarre’s Park Avenue residence had a different story. “Yeje came into his life just months before his death. He only knew the guy for the last eight months. Nobody liked him here. … He just took over his life,” said the building-maintenance worker, according to The New York Post.
Unsurprisingly, Yeje’s narrative did not sit well with the late businessman’s family and close friends either.
The art dealer’s cousin, Arkadiusz Tomasik in England, stated that he received a call from Yeie saying he was inheriting the wealth. “I was shocked. For more than 30 years, he said that he would leave us everything. He never told us he had changed his will,” said Tomasik.
He also added Zarre did not mention anything regarding the change in his will when they last spoke on 6 July 2020. Zarre changed his will on the same day. Tomasik added, “We can’t believe that he did this. It’s not possible.” Another close friend of Zarre, Phillys Dubrow, a Manhattan-trusts-and-estates attorney stated, “How did he sign his name? Did he know what he was signing and how did he get to Queens?”
A longtime friend from his Park Avenue building also stated his doubts. “This can’t be. Andre was legally blind. We used to take his finger to help him sign his checks,” said the friend.
Yeje refused to comment on the will but said, “He always gave me instructions with people I needed to call after his death. And I have called all of them.”
Meanwhile, the art collector reportedly decided to invest in Palermo Delicatessen in October 2019. Nick Wolfson, an artist and friend of Zarre, said he was confused when he heard about Zarre’s decision to get involved with the deli.
“I never understood why he would get involved in anything except art. He was vulnerable. He was really going blind and could barely put one foot in front of the other,” said the artist, according to the Daily Mail.
With the assets in Yeje’s name, the family is considering legal action. Yeje, on the other hand, sent a letter to Zarre’s cousin “offering $45,000 cash and land that Zarre owned in Poland in exchange for not challenging the will.”