Last time I was in the US I wandered into a Thomas Kinkade gallery.Â It was upscale, someone’s idea of colonial tasteful,Â Â and empty, no customers wereÂ wandering around.Â I’m not a fan, butÂ The Guardian said in 2006 that 1 inÂ 20 US homeowners are. He has been marketed and markets himselfÂ as an evangelical.Â
All I could think gazing around the store was the news Kinkade was making because of financial issues with gallery owners.Â Â The owner picked up on the Canadian accents quickly and wandered back to the front desk.Â Kincade is known for mass marketing his work and for trademarking the termÂ ’Painter of Light’.
Kincade’s companyÂ has been orderedÂ by a three judge panelÂ to pay two former gallery owners $860,000 in damages and 1.2 million dollars in legal fees.
The plaintiffs’ lawyer, Norman Yatooma, said the ruling was “a breath of life” for Hazlewood and Spinello, who were “lied to and cheated and broken, and are broke because of the deceit they endured at the hands of Thomas Kinkade” and his assistants.
Yatooma represents other former gallery owners who claim Kinkade ruined them financially. Kinkade has won most of the cases but has lost two arbitrations, the Hazlewood-Spinello case and a recent $1.4 million award to the owner of four closed galleries in Grand Rapids, Mich.
The painter, whose Thomas Kinkade Co. is based in Morgan Hill, is known for his glowing pastels of everyday Americana that have been far more popular with the public than with art critics. He is a born-again Christian who uses religious themes in his art and his marketing, and once said that “God became my art agent” after his conversion.
The plaintiff’s lawyer says other people have complained to him (he won another arbitration for 1.4 million) but can’t afford the legal costs.Â MorganHillTimes:
After the galleries’ failure, the couple announced its claims that Kinkade and his company falsely represented the agreement they entered into by telling them they would be treated as “partners,” and used their Christian faith to establish an unwritten trust.
Furthermore, the Thomas Kinkade Company did not disclose to the couple that they could not charge below a minimum retail price for the artist’s works, while Kinkade undercut them by selling the same products inexpensively through his own stores and Web sites, according to the 2006 arbitration award.
As the couple’s attorney put it, the company “openly and wildly deceived” his clients by telling them they would be part of a “religious mission.” He said they were told they would succeed financially by opening a Kinkade gallery.
This is an interesting and perhaps more realisticÂ take on store ownersÂ hitchingÂ their wagon to a bad business scheme.Â
His productÂ doesn’t appearÂ have the fan base it did/does in the US, the companyÂ home site lists about 40 international stores.
He has a blog, whichÂ seems to be aboutÂ about new paintings. It reads asÂ if it isÂ written by a marketing employee who thinks a blog post has to be X number of words.Â There is also a YouTube channel.