World-famous artist Thomas Kinkade's wife and girlfriend are battling over his tens of millions of dollars, each laying claim to the late painter's vast real estate holdings.
Fifty-four-year-old painter Thomas Kinkade was dating Amy Pinto-Walsh when he died in April of an alcohol and valium overdose. He had been separated for two years from his wife of 30 years, Nanette Kinkade.
At issue are two barely legible handwritten notes that Pinto-Walsh said the artist wrote several months before he died.
The first note, dated Nov. 18, 2011, 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 16324 and 16342 Ridgecrest Avenue for her security."
The second note, dated Dec. 11, 2011, states that Pinto-Walsh should receive $10 million to establish a museum of Kinkade's original paintings.
"Assuming that he did … that [that] was his document and his handwriting and he wrote it, I would venture to say that there would be a good chance that she would get some portion of the real estate," said Mitch Jacobs, a family law attorney.
Pinto-Walsh wants the dispute to be heard in open court while Kinkade's wife wants a private arbitration.
Pinto-Walsh said in a court filing that she and Kinkade were in love and planned to get married as soon as his divorce was finalized, claiming they had even shopped for an engagement ring. Nanette Kinkade, who had four daughters with her late husband, claims Pinto-Walsh is nothing more than a gold digger intent on fleecing Thomas Kinkade's estate.
A hearing is scheduled for July 2 in California to determine the authenticity and legal weight of the notes.
The feud between the two women began last April after Nanette Kinkade banned Pinto-Walsh from the painter's funeral. Kinkade then sought a restraining order against Pinto-Walsh to prohibit her from speaking to the media.
Thomas Kinkade was known as the "painter of light" for his depictions of candlelit cottages and pastoral scenes. He was one of the most collected American artists of his time, and it was estimated that one in every 20 U.S. homes owns a copy of his paintings.
The Associated Press contributed to this report