Thomas Kinkade, “The Painter of Light” desired to shine “God’s light” in a secular artworld. Critics dismissed his kitschy pastoral landscapes as filled with more trees than artistic merit. The American public disagreed. Millions of knick-knacks sported Kinkade’s designs. The popularity financed a destructive drinking career. That light casts a dark shadow.
Kinkade was a fraud that inflated his sales figures to trick gallery owners to invest with him. Operators displayed Kinkade’s work falsely believing their value was secure. It was not. In early 2002, his stock value fell from $25 to $3 dollars. While the investors went bankrupt, Kinkade’s personal wealth was unaffected.
The millions in royalties fueled drunken escapades. Disastrous incidents include storming the stage of a Siegfried & Roy performance or urinating on a Winnie the Pooh statute at Disneyland. Worst of all, multiple female fans accused him of groping them without their consent. When he drank himself into a temporary coma, his family held an intervention about his alcoholism. Doctors feared that if he did not control his drinking, he would die. After mixing valium with liquor, that is exactly what happened. He was 54.