SAN JOSE -- Despite a security guard posted around-the-clock inside the gates of the late Thomas Kinkade's Monte Sereno home, his live-in girlfriend who claims half the artist's fortune believes she is anything but safe, her lawyers said in court Monday.
Amy Pinto's lawyers say her car and those of two friends have been recently vandalized, the home's French doors have been tampered with and the attic of the home broken into, with the intruder leaving footprints on the dusty floor and a ladder against the house.
"That coincidence could never happen on Earth," said lawyer Doug Dal Cielo, who said that Kinkade's widow, Nanette, and four daughters apparently know the alarm code and password for the house.
The security claims came during a Santa Clara County Probate Court hearing at which Pinto's rent was set at $11,000 a month and Nanette Kinkade asked to remove from the house every piece of furniture, art -- worth millions of dollars -- and other family possessions that were there before Pinto moved into the 6,000-square-foot home.
Dan Casas, lawyer for the Kinkade estate, said the security accusations are ridiculous and he would be happy to share alarm company records showing who has come and gone, but he had no intention of giving Pinto sole control of the house alarm as she requested.
Pinto had sought to pay $8,500 a month for the house on two acres in the exclusive village of Monte Sereno. Judge Thomas Cain rejected her request for a $2,000 discount because of the intrusiveness of the security guard kept on the property by the estate to make sure she doesn't steal Kinkade's paintings or possessions. The judge also rejected her request to fix the pool, which because of a leak was drained and locked tight.
He told both sides that he wants to see on Dec. 3 a list of possessions each claims.
Dal Cielo says Pinto, a consultant before she met Kinkade, can afford to pay the rent with her own money, which does not include what Kinkade's lawyer says is $1 million he gave her before he died.
At the heart of the dispute are two barely legible handwritten wills that Pinto contends Kinkade wrote in the months before his death, giving her his house and $10 million to establish a museum of his work at his studio next door.
In court papers, Pinto's lawyers say for the first time that Kinkade had a hand tremor that could be the result of alcohol withdrawal and that his personal family lawyer advised him to handwrite his wills instead of going through traditional estate planning.
Monday's developments darkened the shadow over Kinkade, a 54-year-old alcoholic who died at the home in April from a lethal mix of alcohol and Valium. Known as the "Painter of Light," he made a fortune selling reproductions of his romantic realism paintings that depict charming candlelit cottages and licensing those images for calendars, coffee mugs and other merchandise.
Kinkade separated from his wife in 2010 and began dating Pinto six months later.
Although Pinto has said in court filings that she and Kinkade were soul mates who planned to wed in Fiji as soon as a divorce was final, Casas said outside of court Monday that Kinkade was clearly dragging his feet on signing divorce papers.
He also suggested that Kinkade had a premonition of death and was moving to limit Pinto's stay in the house and the money he would leave to her.
"He didn't tell me, but my sense is he had some concerns she was going to do exactly what she's doing now," Casas said.
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