SAN JOSE, CALIF. (AP) - Hearings in the dispute between Thomas Kinkade’s widow and girlfriend over the late artist’s $66 million estate will not be conducted behind closed doors.
A judge ruled on Monday that the case will remain open to the public in probate court and not be decided through private arbitration.
The case was continued until Aug. 13.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
Thomas Kinkade’s widow and girlfriend are facing off in court over who will be executor of the late artist’s $66.3 million estate.
Amy Pinto-Walsh, who was living with Kinkade and found his body when the 54-year-old died in April, has submitted handwritten notes she says bequeath her his mansion in Monte Sereno and $10 million to establish a museum of his paintings there.
The self-described “Painter of Light” was known for sentimental scenes of country gardens and pastoral landscapes. His work led to a commercial empire of franchised galleries, reproduced artwork and spin-off products that was said to fetch some $100 million a year in sales.
In recent years, however, he had run into personal difficulties, including a 2010 bankruptcy filing by one of his companies and an arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence that same year outside Carmel.
Kinkade accidentally overdosed April 6 on alcohol and Valium.
Monday’s hearing will determine the authenticity and legal weight of the notes, dated Nov. 18, 2011, and Dec. 11, 2011.
The first, according to a transcription furnished earlier this month by Pinto-Walsh’s lawyers, reads: “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 16342 Ridgecrest Avenue for her security.”
The second note states that along with the house, Pinto-Walsh, 48, should be given $10 million to establish the “Thomas Kinkade Museum” at the mansion “for the public display in perpetuity of original art.”
Nanette Kinkade has painted Pinto-Walsh in court papers as a gold-digger who is trying to cheat the artist’s rightful heirs. After Kinkade’s death, she obtained a restraining order prohibiting the other woman from talking publicly about the artist. That confidentiality agreement is also the subject of court proceedings.