Thomas Kinkade

Artist / Business Personality

Born: 19 January 1958
Died: 6 April 2012
Birthplace: Placerville, California
Best known as:

The "Painter of Light" who became a multimillionaire businessman

Thomas Kinkade was a successful and controversial mass-market artist of the late 20th and early 21st century. Kinkade called himself a "painter of light," specializing in sun-dappled meadows and charming cottages with glowing windows beside burbling streams. His annual "Christmas Cottage" series was perhaps his signature achievement. Fans compared Kinkade to Norman Rockwell and loved him for his idealized homey scenes and comforting moods; cynics also compared him to Rockwell and disliked him for the same reasons. Kinkade aggressively turned his paintings into big business, mass-marketing his work on cable TV and in Thomas Kinkade shops in malls across America. Some of his canvas prints fetched up to $10,000 or more in stores, and The Los Angeles Times reported that he earned $50 million between 1997 and 2005.  In later years he had personal struggles: he had legal wrangles with a variety of business partners, was arrested for drunk driving in 2010, and separated from his wife shortly afterwards. Thomas Kinkade died suddenly at his home in Los Gatos, California in 2012. A coroner later ruled that his death was called by "acute ethanol and Diazepam intoxication" -- that is, a lethal combination of alcohol and Valium.

Extra credit:

Thomas Kinkade married his wife, Nanette, in 1982. They had four daughters: Merritt, Chandler, Winsor and Everett. All four of his daughters share the same middle name -- Christian -- according to a 1999 profile in The New York Times. The same article reported that Kinkade had "dropped out of both the University of California at Berkeley and the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, bummed around the country and painted backgrounds for the animated film 'Fire and Ice' before becoming a gallery artist"... Kinkade's official site bio says that "Numerous paintings contain hidden 'N's' representing Thom's lovely wife Nanette and many other paintings include the numbers 5282 as tribute to their wedding date May 2, 1982"... Thomas Kinkade's death was reported to authorities in a 911 call by his live-in girlfriend, Amy Pinto-Walsh.

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