A wealthy man left his entire fortune to a Queens deli worker who became his caretaker and companion, leaving his family outraged.
Andre Zarre, a wealthy New York City art dealer, passed away at the age of 78 on July 15. He owned galleries in the Upper East Side and Chelsea, and he was one of the top contemporary art dealers in the city.
Zarre, who was not married and did not have any children, lived in a flat on ritzy Park Avenue.
Artist Dana Gordon paid tribute to the late art dealer, writing: “Zarre had a real ‘eye’ and was a champion of abstract art from the moment he founded his gallery.”
Speaking to The New York Post, painter Pat Lipsky said: “He is unprecedented in my experience. He had really good taste, but he could also do things that were really bizarre.”
Zarre had formed a friendship with one of the deli’s countermen after he decided to invest in Palermo Delicatessen in Glendale, Queens.
50-year-old Jose Yeje, a married father-of-four and also a co-owner of the Palermo Deli, became Zarre’s ‘caretaker’ when his health started to deteriorate.
“He had bad knees, he couldn’t walk and he had heart problems, diabetes and gout,” Yeje said to 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.”
Zarre reportedly signed a will making the father-of-four his sole inheritor. More than a week later, he passed away following a fall at his home.
Grieving Yeje then called Zarre’s cousin in England and informed him that he received the art dealer’s entire fortune.
The cousin told The Post: “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.”
Zarre’s relatives are now considering legal action against Yeje, saying the art dealer had a collection worth millions of dollars and had much more money in other banks.
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