Attorneys representing Thomas Kinkade's girlfriend, who is seeking millions of dollars she claims the famous painter left her, filed court documents Thursday opposing his estate's move to have probate matters related to his disputed wills aired in public.
Douglas W. Dal Cielo, Brian M. Affrunti and Sonia M. Agee representing Amy Pinto-Walsh opposed the estate's request Wednesday seeking a closed-door arbitration of the probate dispute.
A hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m., July 2, related to two documents Pinto-Walsh says were handwritten wills drafted by Kinkade
In the documents dated Nov. 18, 2011 and Dec. 11, 2011, the painter gave Pinto-Walsh an opulent mansion in Monte Sereno next to Los Gatos, a next-door studio, $10 million to run a museum showcasing his original artwork and his entire art collection said to be worth $66 million. Pinto-Walsh's attorneys filed both disputed wills with the Santa Clara County Superior Court probate division on May 24.
Marcia Horowitz, a Kinkade trust spokeswoman, issued a statement that having the probate matter heard in public would violate the terms of a confidentiality agreement Pinto-Walsh signed in February 2011.
"The Kinkade Family Trust was settled in 1997, subsequently restated and amended, and was up-to-date at the time of Thom’s death. Thomas Kinkade asked for and executed the confidential arbitration agreement as a means to protect his assets, his privacy and the privacy of his wife and four daughters. Because of this, the estate believes that it has a clear obligation to honor Thom’s wishes in terms of complying with the confidentiality agreement and with the Kinkade Family Trust agreement,” the statement said.
In her opposition filing, Pinto-Walsh writes: "I am not the sole beneficiary of this will. This museum is for Thomas' many fans. This museum is for young and aspiring Thomas Kinkades who do not have the financial means to attend art classes but who possess an inherent talent and drive to touch and inspire people through their art. The museum is to create an environment for aspiring artists similar to the experiences provided to him by his mentor, Glenn Wessels.
"I am not attempting to use the Probate Court to circumvent the confidentiality agreement," she said, adding that the painter had also suggested she collaborate with Kinkade's brother, Patrick Kinkade, to establish the museum. "It is my every intention to see that his wishes are carried out."
Pinto-Walsh's attorneys lost a battle June 14 when Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Leslie C. Nichols ruled that the confidentiality agreement's validity and a claim by Pinto-Walsh that the estate violated a medical directive on the disposition of Kinkade's body would be heard by a binding arbitration panel of three judges behind closed doors.
Affrunti said the confidentiality agreement is the basis for the estate's latest application to enforce binding arbitration in the probate matter. Pinto-Walsh's attorneys don't believe the agreement is valid. "We're asking that the probate court hear the probate administration of the holographic wills," he said. "Our position is expressed in our papers."
To read Pinto-Walsh's filings in the latest legal matter related to the case, please see the attached PDF documents.