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Julie Garber

Will Contest Over Artist Thomas Kinkade's Estate Ends With Secret Settlement

By December 27, 2012

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Many will be surprised to learn that the will contest over control of the multimillion dollar estate of the famed "Painter of Light," Thomas Kinkade, has abruptly ended. The will contest arose between the artist's estranged wife, Nanette Kinkade, and his live-in girlfriend, Amy Pinto, after Ms. Pinto produced two hand-written wills (legally known as "holographic wills," which are not recognized in all states but are valid in California) in which the painter left his Monte Sereno, California mansion, $10 million and $66 million in artwork to Ms. Pinto to establish a museum. Ms. Pinto continued to live at the mansion while the will contest was sorted out, although at one point she was ordered to pay $11,000 a month in rent to the Kinkade estate. With multimillions at stake and a hearing scheduled for December 24 to determine if Nanette Kinkade would be entitled to remove items of furniture, artwork worth millions and other family possessions from the mansion, attorneys for both sides released the following statement on December 19: "Putting Mr. Kinkade's message of love, spirituality, and optimism at the forefront, the parties are pleased that they have honored Mr. Kinkade by resolving their differences amicably."

The attorneys refused to comment any further on the settlement reached between Mrs. Kinkade and Ms. Pinto, but at some point some of the details will become evident since all real estate transactions are public records. So if title to the mansion remains in limbo or is conveyed to Mrs. Kinkade, then the settlement gave her the mansion, but if title to the mansion is conveyed to Ms. Pinto, then the settlement gave her the mansion. In addition, if any of the artwork is sold at public auction, then the owner may be revealed at that time. Of course, with the multimillion dollar estate butting up against a measly $5.12 million federal estate tax exemption and anything passing to Mrs. Kinkade exempt from federal estate taxes due to the unlimited marital deduction, the attorneys for both sides had to take the millions of dollars of estate taxes at stake into consideration in reaching their agreement.

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