- (Photo: BGEA)
The finances of Thomas Kinkade have surfaced following the well-known painter's death that came unexpectedly over the weekend.
Thomas Kinkade passed on Friday at the age of 54. While the official cause of his death is unknown, family members have stated that the famous painter died of natural causes. An autopsy was ordered Monday to confirm the official cause, but results from the test may remain unknown for weeks.
While Kinkade's death took family members and friends by surprise, many still honored his passing.
"He lived life to the fullest," Ken Raasch, the former business partner who co-founded Kinkade's company more than 20 years ago, told the L.A. Times. "He was a very eclectic character, an amazing artist who was not a stereotypical man in any sense. He created his own mold, I'd say, and I think we were all blessed because of that."
Following his passing however, it has been revealed that Kinkade had collected a substantial amount of debt. Although it was apparent that Kinkade had faced financial difficulties because his Morgan Hill Company was forced to file for bankruptcy in 2010 with $6.2 million in unpaid expenses, the extent of his debt appeared to remain unknown.
According to Newser, Kinkade passed with an estimated $9 million of debt, which was owed to at least 165 creditors. In 2006 Kinkade was charged with fraud by two Virginia gallery owners, which resulted in Kinkade owing the owners an estimated $860,000 in damages. Six years later the amount has escalated to $2.4 million, according to Newser. Other debts include $40,000 in back taxes and other smaller miscellaneous debts, some for as little as $125.
While the sale of Kinkade paintings had slowed in the past few years, the passing of the artist has reignited buyers in the art market. According to the Huffington Post, "Sunday Outing," with the price tag of $110,000, had remained unsold for years.
The gallery owner got wind of Kinkade's death however and raised the price an extra $150,000; the painting sold only hours later.
Much of Kinkade's work is receiving the same kind of attention, but given the painter's large amounts of debts and a previous legal agreement, none of the proceeds from Kinkade's paintings will go to his family. Instead, all proceeds will go to paying off Kinkade's creditors.
"Any piece with Kinkade's original signature is in high demand at a cost of $8,000 to $15,000," John Vassallo, an owner of five Thomas Kinkade galleries, told the Huffington Post.
"The Thomas Kinkade story and legacy is a story of triumph and tragedy, which I believe that everyone can gain from paying attention to," Terry Sheppard, a former Kinkade friend and company vice president who parted ways with the painter in 2003, told the L.A. Times.
Kinkade separated from his wife last year, but is survived by four daughters.