Christian artist Thomas Kinkade, who died in his California home on April 6, had suffered an overdose from accidentally consuming an excessive amount of Valium and alcohol, according to a coroner's report made public Monday.
Kinkade, who called himself the "Painter of Light," was 54 years old when he passed away last month at his Monte Sereno, Calif., home and his death had been attributed at the time to natural causes.
Local television news station NBC Bay Area reported Monday, however, that the Santa Clara County Coroner has concluded that Kinkade actually died of "acute ethanol and Diazepam intoxication," meaning an overdose of alcohol and Valium. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, Diazepam (among a class of antidepressants known as benzodiazepine), goes by the brand name Valium. The drug is commonly prescribed to help "relieve anxiety, muscle spasms, and seizures and to control agitation caused by alcohol withdrawal."
"Mr. Kinkade died of respiratory depression as a result of a high concentration of ethanol combined with benzodiazepine use," according to the coroner's report, which was posted by the television news station.
The report also indicates that Kinkade's overdose was accidental, and noted that the artist was "hypertensive and [had] atherosclerotic heart disease."
The 54-year-old painter, whose works reportedly skyrocketed in value in the wake of his death, had battled alcoholism for years. According to his brother Paul Kinkade, the artist had suffered a relapse just prior to his death, although he had been sober months before.
The Mercury News reports that Kinkade had turned back to drinking the night before he died and that it was his live-in girlfriend of several months who called 911 to their residence.
Paul Kinkade revealed that his brother had difficulty dealing with a separation from his wife and children, as well as comments from those critical of his art. It was also revealed after Kinkade's passing that the artist had been in severe debt, owing creditors up to $9 million, according to some reports.
"He would shoulder the world, pull the naysayers on his back and smile when he was doing it," said Patrick Kinkade to the San Jose Mercury News of his brother's habit of dealing with critics. "As much as he said it didn't bother him, in his heart deep down inside it would sadden him that people would criticize so hatefully his work and his vision when people didn't understand him."
Despite the criticism of his work, Kinkade's paintings, full of Christian imagery, have become so prominent that it is estimated that about one in every 20 U.S. homes holds one of his works.
As for those critical of Kinkade's struggles, his brother asked observers to remember that he was only a man.
"There's no hypocrisy in Tom's vision," Paul Kinkade told the Mercury News. "What you're looking at is a man. He believed in God. He loved his daughters. He wanted people to be affirmed by his work. But he was awfully human."