A dispute over the will of deceased painter Thomas Kinkade went to court on Tuesday.
Kinkade's widow and girlfriend are feuding over the estate belonging to the famous painter, who is known for the mass marketing of his pastoral landscapes and printed reproductions. Kinkade was said to be America's most-collected living artist before his death, with an estimated one in every 20 American homes owning a copy of one of his paintings, according to his website.
Kinkade's girlfriend, Amy Pinto-Walsh, was reportedly living with the 54-year-old painter when she found his lifeless body in April. According to an autopsy, coroners believe his death was due an accidental overdose of alcohol and Valium pills.
The Associated Press is reporting that lawyers for Nanette Kinkade, the painter's wife of 30 years, and for his company, want the terms to be decided in secret binding arbitration. The couple had been legally separated for more than two years when Kinkade died.
At the same time, Pinto-Walsh has submitted handwritten notes allegedly written by Kinkade which give his girlfriend the rights to his mansion in Monte Sereno and $10 million to establish a museum of his paintings there, the San Jose Mercury News reported.
The newspaper goes on to cite two notes, dated Nov. 18, 2011, and Dec. 11, 2011, written in barely legible print.
I, Thomas Kinkade, being of sound mind and body do hereby bequeath to Amy Pinto Walsh $10,000,000 in cash from my corporate policy and I give her the house at 16324 and 16342 Ridgecrest Avenue for her security, the first note reads, according to a transcription furnished by Pinto-Walsh's lawyers.
The second note goes on to say that along with the house, Pinto-Walsh should be given $10 million to establish the Thomas Kinkade Museum at the mansion for the public display in perpetuity of original art.
In addition to the assets listed in the notes, Pinto-Walsh is requesting legal authority to oversee $66.3 million from Kinkade's estate, the Mercury-News reported.
Authenticity and legal weight of the notes will be determined in a July 2 hearing.
AP is reporting that Pinto-Walsh's lawyers filed court papers Monday claiming that she and Kinkade had planned to marry in Fiji as soon as his divorce went through.
Amy and Thomas were deeply in love, according to court documents from Pinto-Walsh's lawyers. They both believed that fate brought them together to help each other through the difficult times they both encountered as well as to share their dreams of a life together, the papers said.
In the period 1997 to May 2005, Kinkade is believed to have earned $53 million for his sentimental scenes of country gardens and pastoral landscapes.
At the height of his business, Thomas Kinkade Signature Galleries based in Morgan Hill, Calif.,, the manufacturing operation that reproduces the art, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, listing nearly $6.2 million in creditors' claims.