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Thomas Kinkade estate fight will be in open court, judge rules

July 2, 2012 |  3:23 pm

Click for more photosThe dispute over artist Thomas Kinkade’s estate will remain in open court, a Santa Clara County probate judge ruled Monday, instead of being conducted before a confidential arbitration panel as requested by his widow.

Nanette Kinkade, who was legally separated from the Painter of Light™ at the time of his death in April, and Kinkade’s live-in girlfriend, Amy Pinto, are wrangling over the artist’s $60-million-plus estate.

Pinto, who has been bound by a confidentiality agreement, filed two handwritten wills with the probate court in June; they allegedly leave her Kinkade’s home, studio and $10 million to set up a museum in his honor. Nanette Kinkade disputes the validity of the wills.

Photos: Thomas Kinkade: 'The Painter of Light'

“We’re extremely pleased, and we believe this dispute should be litigated in open court,” said Douglas Dal Cielo, Pinto’s attorney.

“Regardless of today’s procedural decision about a public or private forum, the underlying facts remain the same,” said Kathleen M. Blomquist, a spokeswoman for the Kinkade estate. “Thom and Nanette Kinkade had a formal estate plan in place at the time of his passing, and these purported holographs are not credible.”

Kinkade died at his Monte Sereno estate of an overdose of alcohol and Valium. Pinto, who had been living with him for more than a year, was unable to rouse him and called 911. His death was ruled an accident.

The two sides are scheduled to be back in court Aug. 13. Judge Thomas Cain must still appoint an administrator for the estate and rule on the validity of the handwritten wills.

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-- Maria L. La Ganga in San Francisco

Photo: Thomas Kinkade. Credit: Gene Blythe / Associated Press

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