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Thomas Kinkade, Bambi's First Year, 2010, from the Disney Dreams series
Thomas Kinkade, Bambi's First Year, 2010, from the "Disney Dreams" series


Apr. 10, 2012

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It’s been estimated that one out of every 20 American homes contains a schmaltzy small-town landscape by commercial painter Thomas Kinkade. He has licensed his name to everybody from Avon to La-Z-Boy and made a fortune selling endless reproductions of his work -- all of which has made him a constant target of critical seed-spitting, even after his abrupt death this past weekend, at the age of 54. But now it appears that Kinkade could be getting one last laugh, as galleries report that the Kinkade market has never been better.

In the artist’s hometown of Placerville, Calif., The Original Thomas Kinkade Gallery told the San Francisco Chronicle that it had sold about 200 reproductions over the weekend, up from the usual two or three. Those start at about $750 a pop and the gallery also unloaded two Kinkade originals, one for $24,000 and another marked up from $110,000 to $150,000. Sherwood Fine Art in Minnesota told the Chronicle that it had sold more Kinkade works in three days than it had in a year. A Napa Valley dealer said she was up from about two paintings a month to 40.

Of course, it’s common for an artist’s death to prompt sales -- collectors recognize that the supply’s suddenly finite -- but Kinkade’s work has been on the decline for the last decade. He's pumped too much art onto the market and bogged it down still with perpetual reproductions. In 2010, a branch of Thomas Kinkade Co. filed for bankruptcy.

Looks like it's Kinkade's last stand.

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