Attorneys for the Thomas Kinkade estate and the late artist's girlfriend were in court Monday to iron out rental payments for the Monte Sereno Ridgecrest Drive mansion where Amy Pinto-Walsh has been residing since before the painter's death the morning of April 6.
Kinkade, one of the most prolific American painters, died at age 54 of an apparent lethal combination of Valium and alcohol.
Daniel Casas, an attorney for the Kinkade estate, said Pinto-Walsh didn't want to pay any rent to remain in the home, which is under 24-hour security at the request of Nanette Kinkade, the painter's widow and her attorneys.
"Her lawyers had an argument as to why she should pay zero," said Casas, "and they had a realtor from Los Gatos file a declaration with an estimate of what he believed the fair rental value of the home was, about $5,000 a month.
However, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Thomas Cain stipulated during the Probate Court hearing that her rent will be $11,000 a month to live in the home, without utilities, which will be retroactive to July 1, 2012.
The status hearing came as a result of an Aug. 13 hearing during which Judge Cain was asked to rule on the rental payments for the home by Pinto-Walsh.
Douglas Dal Cielo, an attorney for Pinto-Walsh, said his client didn't argue that no rent should be paid and, to the contrary, an expert realtor had said the fair market rent for the home should be $8,500 a month. However, because of the constant security around the property, she should receive a $2,000 monthly reduction "because she doesn't have any privacy and quiet enjoyment."
Cain had given Pinto-Walsh's attorneys three options, which consisted of vacating the home; paying all expenses related to the property including its mortgage, property taxes, insurance and maintenance; and paying its fair rental value.
Casas said the estate had informed the court that beginning on July 1 the cost of renting the home would be $12,500 a month.
The other issue reviewed on Monday was the status of the painter's alleged wills being contested.
The wills have two different petitions, one for the so-called holographic handwritten wills Pinto-Walsh alleges were written by Kinkade before he died and which give her the mansion, a studio next door, $10 million to run a museum that would showcase all his original artwork for the public, and all his artwork estimated at $60 million. The other is for Kinkade's wills or codicils, which he prepared over the course of several years between 2000 and 2007, according to Casas.
Casas said two hearings actually took place Monday, with the parties meeting in the morning and returning in the afternoon, as Judge Cain gave Pinto-Walsh's attorneys a chance to bring evidence.
Around-the-clock security has been provided at the home after Kinkade's death and in some form before April 6 to protect his paintings and other valuable assets contained in the home, Casas said.
Casas said Pinto-Walsh's attorneys wanted that security discontinued, but Judge Cain denied the request. "The property needs to be treated with the respect it deserves," he said.
Casas also indicated the rental amount ordered by Judge Cain was reasonable, but that the estate would have been happier if he had ordered Pinto-Walsh to vacate the property.
About claims that Pinto-Walsh's car has been vandalized as well as some of her friends' vehicles, Casas said he wasn't denying that those incidents occurred, but said the estate doesn't know the specifics of the incidents or when they happened. He also said he didn't think the security concerns were related to the residence, but happened elsewhere either in Los Gatos or another place.
"What I do dispute is that the Kinkade family has anything to do with these alleged incidents. That's ridiculous," Casas said.
Dal Cielo said Pinto-Walsh had filed a police report, which reflects that her car was vandalized, with estimated damages at $5,000. "Somebody wrote on the back windshield, 'f--- you, b----.' "
Then within five days of that incident, Dal Cielo said a man who is a key witness of Pinto-Walsh had his car vandalized, and one of her best friend's cars was vandalized. "Our position is that coincidence is so extraordinary that we believe foul play is involved. Do I have any proof? Do I have video tape? Do I have any witnesseses who saw the damage? No, but I think under these circumstances... it's somebody involved with interests contrary to Amy's pursuits of the case," Dal Cielo said. None of the three incidents happened at the Monte Sereno home, he added.
With regard to personal property contained in the home, to which the Kinkade estate currently doesn't have access to, Judge Cain has asked both parties to submit a list of those items for possible removal.
"Whatever it is, clothing, artifacts, everything else is either property of the estate or property of the children or property of Nanette Kinkade and they should be removed," Casas said.
Judge Cain urged the attorneys to get together and work out a way to retrieve the items by the next court hearing which is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Dec. 3.
Dal Cielo said the judge will schedule a trial date at that time.