SAN JOSE, Calif. — Thomas Kinkade’s stately mansion has become a brutal battleground over his fortune between his widow and girlfriend who still lives there.
Security guards have been stationed inside the gates day and night to make sure the girlfriend, Amy Pinto, doesn’t steal anything.
Pinto — who dated Kinkade for 18 months before he died in April of alcoholism — has refused to move out, ignored invoices to pay $12,500 a month in rent and is “holding hostage this residence,” Daniel Casas, a lawyer for Nanette Kinkade, said after a court hearing Monday in San Jose about the dispute that is tarnishing Kinkade’s legacy as the “Painter of Light.”
Judge Thomas Cain on Monday set a Sept. 17 court date to give Pinto time to “consider her options” of whether to stay or go and suggested that she “make sure everything stays where it is until the outcome of these proceedings.”
Even though she hasn’t worked since she began dating Kinkade, Pinto apparently has resources to pay rent on the house valued at some $7 million. Casas says both before and after Kinkade’s death, she received roughly $1 million from his accounts, although he didn’t make clear how.
The legal fight over Kinkade’s multimillion dollar fortune, which lawyers have valued at at least $100 million, has made headlines across the country ever since Pinto, 48, produced two handwritten wills she claims were written by Kinkade, 54, several months before he died. Although they are written in such sloppy cursive they can barely be deciphered, the notes appear to leave her his house, his art studio next door and $10 million to establish a public museum of his original artwork on the property. Pinto’s lawyers have interpreted this to mean that Kinkade also bequeathed some $66 million worth of his work to fill the museum.
Lawyers for Kinkade’s widow say if Kinkade wrote them, he clearly wasn’t of sound mind and body and that Pinto unduly influenced him, dictating the contents of the will to serve her own greedy purposes.Casas said it could be upward of a year before the court hears arguments over the validity of the handwritten wills. “Most civil cases settle,” Casas said. “It doesn’t mean this one will.”