Thomas Kinkade’s Death Results in Legal Battle Over Estate

Thomas Kinkade was a famous painter whose artwork is said to be hanging in one out of every 20 homes in America as well as the White House and the Billy Graham Library. Known for his strong Christian faith, the artist is famous for his pastoral settings that include cottages and gardens. Kinkade was called the “Painter of Light.” However, recent accounts suggest that the last days of his life may have been filled with more darkness than anything.

Kinkade spent his last two years legally separated from his wife after 28 years of marriage. He struggled with alcoholism and his death was a shock to those around him when his girlfriend found him dead after ingesting too much alcohol and Valium. In addition to his artwork, Kinkade left behind a nasty legal battle over the division of property that includes two wills, two women, and two entirely different interpretations of the painter’s last wishes.

The artist’s live-in girlfriend and his estranged wife are both claiming rights to the administration of his estate and the two will face off in probate court. A spokeswoman for the Kinkade estate said that Thomas and Nanette Kinkade’s wills were up to date at the time of his death. However, the artist’s girlfriend has come forward with two handwritten wills that leave her $10 million and the painter’s compound including his house and art studio in a woodsy suburb of Silicon Valley. The handwritten will also gives her the rights to create a Kinkade museum in the artists honor.

Kinkade’s wife has accused her estranged husband’s girlfriend of gold digging and possible industrial espionage. To make matters worse, one of the artist’s many companies sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2010 which resulted in a payment plan to cover a legal settlement. He had also lost a suit against a former gallery owner. With interest and legal fees, he owed $2.8 million. The end of this legal battle is yet to be seen but one thing’s for sure, the details do not paint a pretty picture.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Thomas Kinkade’s wife, girlfriend battle over his estate,” Maria L. La Ganga, July 1, 2012

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