Painter of light(TM) company ordered to lighten bank account

Last time I was in the US I wandered into a Thomas Kinkade gallery.  It was upscale, someone’s idea of colonial tasteful,  and empty, no customers were wandering around. I’m not a fan, but The Guardian said in 2006 that 1 in 20 US homeowners are. He has been marketed and markets himself as an evangelical. 

All I could think gazing around the store was the news Kinkade was making because of financial issues with gallery owners.  The owner picked up on the Canadian accents quickly and wandered back to the front desk. Kincade is known for mass marketing his work and for trademarking the term ’Painter of Light’.

Kincade’s company has been ordered by a three judge panel 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.  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 realistic take on store owners hitching their wagon to a bad business scheme. 
His product doesn’t appear have the fan base it did/does in the US, the company home site lists about 40 international stores.
He has a blog, which seems to be about about new paintings. It reads as if it is written by a marketing employee who thinks a blog post has to be X number of words. There is also a YouTube channel.

About Bene Diction

Have courage for the great sorrows, And patience for the small ones. And when you have laboriously accomplished your tasks, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.
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5 Responses to Painter of light(TM) company ordered to lighten bank account

  1. Torontonian says:

    I looked at his site and at the events calendar.

    The man charges $75 to have breakfast with him
    and $35 for an ice cream social. This is in
    Harrisburg PA.

    Here’s the link:
    http://tiny.cc/ziLBK
    (Tiny URL’d it for you Torontonian. I stopped at the NASCAR paintings, a Disney piece and discounted bible covers. BD:^)

    The man is continually finding ways of taking in money
    even for the most mundane of events. I find that a
    little galling and cheeky.

    He is to art what Karajan was to recorded music. And,
    I don’t hear many people sorry that Karajan’s no longer
    around.

    Anyone who likes his style of art and is Canadian should
    look into the Canadian version of Kincaid.

    His name is Michael Kluckner and he’s our equivalent
    to the Kinkades of America.

    I’m sure the dealers across the US have as many horror
    stories as do musicians have about Herbert von Karajan.

    I better stop here. Sanity dictates it.

  2. Thought it interesting that I had just read this blog post prior to yours… also on Kinkade.

    http://www.culture-making.com/post/dr_jekyll_and_mr_kinkade/

  3. BD says:

    Joe Carter’s peice from 2006 crossed my mind writing this up.

    http://tiny.cc/0t7JI

  4. ProgFrog says:

    Some of the commentary, especially specific words used by the plaintiff’s attorney gives me reason to question the claim. And the 9th Circuit court certainly has no reputation for making reasoned decisions.

    Even though it has been some years since I have seen Mr. Kinkade, I do know him – and my assessment is that he is an honorable man, a gifted artist and not one to wantonly mislead anyone. Can there be problems within the company, where he has little or no oversight (since his focus is on creating the art, not running the business)? Sure, I could accept such a notion. But the marketability of his product images (collections of items based on the original oils), has been a phenomenally successful enterprise, even if over-exploited – as often times happens with commercial ventures.

    I give the man, Thomas Kinkade, the benefit of the doubt. And I think it unfair to equate some questionable business alliances with his personal integrity. There are no “minions”, and to assert that there are, is really a misleading statement and an unfounded attack on his character.

  5. seph says:

    This guy is the living proof that you can make really crappy art with good technique.

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