Thomas Kinkade’s Cause of Death Revealed

by Corinna Kirsch on May 8, 2012 · 37 comments Newswire

Detail from Thomas Kinkaide's "Sleeping Beauty," part of the "Disney Dreams" series.

Santa Clara County Coroner's Office released painter Thomas Kinkade's autopsy results this morning. They offer few surprises. The findings state that Kinkade suffered from an “accidental” and “acute ethanol and Diazepam intoxication” (in layman's terms, Kinkade drank too much while taking Valium). As widely reported, the painter had battled alcoholism for years.

Now that that psuedo-mystery is solved, we can go back to pondering what the future of Thomas Kinkade Company will look like with him gone. Just weeks after the artist's passing, the artist's family started a legal battle with his mistress (and his former studio assistant). With all this interior strife, it's difficult to know what the future will hold for the Thomas Kinkade Company and its hundreds of stores throughout the United States.


jabraun May 9, 2012 at 7:33 am

I love that he was the art hero for the self-righteous conservatives. 

A Martin May 10, 2012 at 4:34 am

If by Conservatives you mean Christians, then you should realize Chrisitans believe they are sinner and therefore NOT self-righteous where as you apparently have no concept pf that and are indeed self-righteous. Also the fact that you “love” any of the tragic weird mess of the guy’s life speaks volumes about you and they’re not too complementary.

Chad May 10, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Christians are unable to be self-righteous?  Let me write that one down.

jabraun May 10, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Hey there!  Actually I’ve spent many years over my life seeking religious experience…. from born again christianity to buddhism to hare krishna…judaism, drugs, whatever.  I know christians use the line of being sinners, as per the bible, but it is an excuse and a crutch, and then they go about their business….covering their butts so they can’t be called self righteous.  I do think it’s self righteous to  believe that everyone who doesn’t believe as you do is going to burn in hell, and that your main role in life is to save them. But I don’t think it’s self righteous to see the hypocrisy.  Yes I get pleasure out of all these holier than thou people having to be confronted with the facade that it is.  I never claim to be without those “uncomplimentary” inclinations.  You won’t find many people who are.  

Brian Sherwin May 10, 2012 at 2:59 pm

You have every Christian figured out? Really? Do you ‘call out’ artists who happen to be Muslim as well? What do you think of Sarah Maple?

jabraun May 12, 2012 at 9:03 am

I do think it’s weird in 2012 to believe, in an absolutist way, in any book written by some ethereal figure no one has ever met or seen.  

Brian Sherwin May 9, 2012 at 1:35 pm

I love that Warhol attended church almost daily — and respected the concept of faith that so many within the NY art world bash today. Something tells me that if Kinkade had been an atheist — or at least a Muslim — people would not be knocking him for his addictions and life choices. That would be ‘intolerant’, right?  Furthermore, point out the addictions that Dash Snow had (which ‘insider’s treated as being cute up until it killed him) — and that he was basically a spoiled brat from an extremely wealthy family… knee deep in oil — and people will scream ‘intolerance’ and rant about how you are being ‘hateful’. OOoo NY art world — your hypocrisy never fails to bring a smile to my face.

Erik Peterson May 9, 2012 at 4:32 pm

You’re an idiot.

Corinna Kirsch May 9, 2012 at 5:20 pm

What’s idiotic? These are just the facts.

Will Brand May 9, 2012 at 4:35 pm

We didn’t say anything about what we thought of Kinkade’s addictions, though. I actually double-checked that there wasn’t any of that just before we posted this, because it would have been in poor taste. I’m not really sure what you’re responding to.

Brian Sherwin May 10, 2012 at 2:19 pm

 Will, my opinion is focused on some of the comments I’ve seen in general — I include comments on Facebook and Twitter. I stand by what I say — if people are going to laugh about his overdose/death… why did they not do the same when Snow and others died from their addictions… is it only amusing because he happened to be Christian? I don’t get it.

As for Christianity, if Kinkade is to be bashed for his religious views — shouldn’t Warhol be bashed as well? After all, he attended church often… and paid  for a family members religious studies.

Fake Screen Name May 10, 2012 at 2:24 pm

I always laugh when undeserving rich people succumb to their excesses.  I threw a party when Dash Snow died and only wish more people who buy their way into the art scene would hurry up and kill themselves. 

At least Kinkade worked for what he had. 

Erik Peterson May 10, 2012 at 3:07 pm

If you really think that Dash Snow, or any other artist with a conflicted identity, is off limits then you either haven’t been reading the press since his death or suffer from a sever case of confirmation bias. Snow has been ripped to shreds by critics of all stripes for both his work and his identity as a “faux-outsider”. I can’t think of any contemporary artist other than Koons or Hirst who has had the label “charlatan” applied to him more times. 

The reason people take “pleasure” or joke about the death of Kinkade is because he took claimed a position of righteousness and capitalized on his image as a “Christian” to become the poster-child for “faith in art”. The fact that his lifestyle was in direct contradiction to his supposed “beliefs”, and that he suffers from the same shortcomings that he criticized “contemporary society” for is satisfying for those of us who believe that the basic human condition is the same for everyone.

 Warhol, on the other hand, never attempted to make himself the ambassador of faith in art, nor did he attempt to capitalize on his religious beliefs by assailing other people’s lifestyle choices. Indeed if your argument were logical, you would expect that Warhol would have been assailed too simply for being a Christian. The fact that he wasn’t actually proves my point, not yours. The idea that “the art world” (which you are really using as a synecdoche for “secular America”) despises Christians while loving Muslims and Jews or Buddhists or whatever is totally ridiculous. 

Rational, secular people are skeptical of extreme religious statements or beliefs from any religion. If there were an equivalent Jewish or Muslim painter in America who capitilized on their supposed “faith” to sell art while criticizing a hedonistic lifestyle they themselves engaged in, you can bet people would be equally as critical. The fact is that the only large vocal religious group in America are Christians, and thus they are the only group capable of sustaining an asshole leech like Kincade.

The fact that you started this line of conversation without the post actually making light of Kincade’s addiction in anyway is indicative of a bias on your part, in fact. You assumed that the blog would adopt that attitude even though there’s nothing to indicate that attitude in the post. 

Brian Sherwin May 10, 2012 at 3:14 pm

 Erik — As for bias not existing in the NY art world. Show me the exhibits, dear. Show me that specific themes are not avoided by that ‘world’. You can’t. If I’m an idiot — art critic Ken Johnson is an idiot for describing it as a ‘liberal festival’.

Brian Sherwin May 10, 2012 at 3:21 pm

 Erik — I criticized Snow (just as I’ve criticized Kinkade in the past)… and I was called “intolerant” and every other name in the book for doing it. Fair enough. That said, I can’t recall seeing anyone take joy in the fact that Snow died. As for Kinkade, the fact that people are clearly happy about his death is…. SICK. Especially when comments of that nature normally involve something about his religious preference — OR clear jabs at ALL Christians. What is the real message here? Perhaps some of you want all Christians to die? Is that it? Strange that Muslims are not as ‘attacked’ by the ‘art world’ as much as Christians considering how close the two religions are. Theo van Gogh was murdered… and the art world barely whispered.

Brian Sherwin May 10, 2012 at 3:26 pm

 My first comment was in reply to jabraun.

Erik Peterson May 9, 2012 at 4:35 pm

Dash Snow was not a voice for Christianity, conservatism, or moralism so his use of drugs is not “hypocritical”. People love to see self-righteous dicks like Kinkade fall to addiction and vice because of the satisfaction of seeing someone so moralistic betray their ridiculously absolutist principles. It’s called Schaddenfreude.

Kim Matthews May 10, 2012 at 1:41 pm

And it isn’t just his “faith,” it’s that he used his popularity to exploit people of faith. It’s that he was a swindler. He was a self-loathing criminal who manipulated people to subsidize his addictions. This has nothing to do with “New York art world” bias.

Brian Sherwin May 10, 2012 at 2:40 pm

 So it is exploitation if the artist has a persona that specific
collectors admire? That mentality would dictate that most artists are
swindlers. If that is so… the artist speaking out against corporations is a fraud if he or she buys products produced/distributed by corporations. If that is so… the artist supporting OWS… all while chumming up with galleries that rely on the 1%… is a fraud. Food for thought.

Erik Peterson May 10, 2012 at 3:16 pm

No it would be like if an artist who claimed to support the goals of occupy wall street used that claim to make a shit load of money, then turned around and donated it to the Republican party. Kincade used his “faith” to get people to give him a shit load of money for his Norman Rockwell meets Walt Disney giclee prints, and then turned around and spent their money on the very vices and lifestyle he claimed to stand against.

Brian Sherwin May 10, 2012 at 2:23 pm

 Last I checked… sin happens. I don’t think Kinkade ever claimed to be Christ. Do you question other artists, such as Amir Normandi (Muslim), if they don’t walk the line of their chosen religion? No… you don’t — because you would be stamped as a bigot. Food for thought.

Brian Sherwin May 10, 2012 at 2:52 pm

 As for Dash Snow… his words and messages were extremely hypocritical when you consider that he was clinging to old oil wealth when the chips were down. At the end of the day, he was a son of the 1%… playing poverty in order to cash in financially and culturally. The same can be said of several artists who have ‘celebrity bloodlines’.  I’m just saying… if we criticize Kinkade for putting on a front — for not being 100% who he claimed to be… why don’t we criticize others for doing the same in their own way? It appears that some artists are ‘off limits’.

Erik Peterson May 10, 2012 at 3:13 pm

Wow you really just don’t get it. No one cares if Thomas Kincaid was a Christian or if Sarah Maple is a Muslim. If Sarah Maple were preaching a particularly virulent brand of Islam and capitalizing on it for profit while at the same time drinking and carrying on Haram sexual activities, people would certainly take the same relish in her downfall.

Erik Peterson May 10, 2012 at 3:20 pm

Brian, thank you for predictably ignoring the content of my comment and replying with an irrelevant and meaningless shibboleth. Everyone has biases, people who own galleries show what they want to show. There is plenty of work on view in the contemporary art world that draws on themes of religion or faith, it just doesn’t present itself in the gaudy exploitative way that Kincade did. Look at Chris Offili’s work, which combines traditional African spiritual objects and aesthetics with Western Christian symbols to question the intrinsic association of gaudy European material culture with true faith. 

Brian Sherwin May 10, 2012 at 4:02 pm

Erik — I agree, private businesses can show what they want. Museums on the other hand….  reform is needed. Still — I know that hate against ALL Christians exists within the NY art scene. Hate is hate… no matter if the ‘attacked’ group is a majority or a minority. Visual criticism is OK…. but I do question why we don’t see other religions criticized as much. I’m not saying that Christianity should not be criticized…. I’m saying there is a clear lack of visual criticism within the art world concerning specific religions that are relevant in conversations today.

Erik Peterson May 10, 2012 at 4:27 pm

I’m going to take this apart sentence by sentence. First, there is no Museum bias against Christian art. Except for the few institutions of modern and contemporary art in this country, the largest part of museum space is devoted to the display of historical European art, most of which is either implicitly or explicitly Christian in nature. I would agree that reform is needed in museums, but to ensure that they show the full diversity of this country’s art rather than to ensure that “Christian” art maintains its dominant place. When you say you “know” something, but you can’t provide any actual evidence of it, you’re enacting the definition of “prejudice”. You can’t provide proof that the “NY Art scene” (as far as it can even be said to be cohesive) has a bias against Christians or a favorable attitude towards people of other faiths because there isn’t any. The attitudes expressed by some contemporary artists about conservative Christianity aren’t hate, they’re criticism of the way in which one particular dogma is allowed to dictate what is and isn’t “right” in our culture. You’re also taking an extremely simplistic view of the power dynamic between majority and minority groups. The dominant group in this country (which isn’t marked just by being Christian but also by being white, capitalist, hawkish, and conservative) has assaulted the arts community here since the eighties through its control of the NEA and other sources of funding. Even just a little while ago, the Hide/Seek exhibition at the NPG was censored because it offended Christians, while a longstanding request from the Islamic community to remove the statue of Mohammed (which is forbidden by Muslim law) from the Supreme Court is ignored and ridiculed. If conservative Muslims were in control of the NEA, the “art world” would have the same ambivalence towards their control. Christianity is a popular subject because its the religion the most people in this culture have had contact with, good or bad.

Erik Peterson May 10, 2012 at 3:30 pm

You criticized Snow for what? His art? His lifestyle? There was an entire piece in New York Magazine after his death that was extremely critical and expository of his background, lifestyle, and habits. Snow however, didn’t make a habit of telling other people how they should do things. Kincade did, and many of his collectors do as well. I don’t have a problem with Christians or people of any other faith for that matter. I would venture to guess that most people here feel the same. Christians of the variety that Kincade exploited and claimed to be, however, have a problem with everyone else. They believe that everyone who isn’t a born again Christian is going to hell, and make it their goal to make sure everyone knows it. That is what being self righteous means–chastising other people for leading their lives in the same way you are. You constant insistence that Muslims be “attacked” in the “same way” that Christians are is absurd, because there is no equivalent Muslim figure to Kincade in contemporary art. Muslims are a very small portion of the population in the countries that produce most of what we think of as “contemporary art”, and the Muslims that have made a name for themselves in the contemporary art world generally don’t make a habit of criticizing everyone around them for not being Muslims.

Brian Sherwin May 10, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Erik — I see a lot of people lumping ALL Christians together (which is what pisses me off the most)… and I have a feeling the same thing would happen if Christians, as a whole, were a minority.

Erik Peterson May 10, 2012 at 3:50 pm

You sound like the people who think that white people are going to be forced into some kind of horrible oppression when Hispanic people make up a majority of the country. The fact is that Christians are the majority in this country, have dominated this country since its founding, and are the majority religion on the globe. You’ll have to forgive my fellow non-Christians if they’re quick to lump people of the religion together, but that’s exactly what you all do to us, the minority. I’ve never heard of someone in the history of the United States being denied a job, housing, or education for being a Christian (no getting fired from a public school for trying to teach creationism doesn’t count) but there is a 230ish year long history of the Christian majority doing exactly that to members of minority faiths (and those with no faith) in this country. It’s not something that’s particular to Christianity, it’s what all dominant groups have done to the minority groups under their control throughout history. When y’all complain about losing your ‘rights’ you’re really feeling the twinge of losing privileges that religious people have denied to those different from them until now.

Brian Sherwin May 10, 2012 at 4:10 pm


1. My grandfather was half native… so don’t make guesses on my views of race.

2. As a Christian, I have not denied anyone their rights. Again, don’t lump me with Christians who are extreme. Don’t be a bigot, sir.

Erik Peterson May 10, 2012 at 4:16 pm

I accused you of neither of those things, as you would know if you had actually read my comment. I was comparing your attitude to those of people who have racial bigotry to point out the prejudiced position you are arguing from. Just because you don’t acknowledge that status as a Christian (conservative or otherwise) gives you access to privileges in this country doesn’t mean it’s not true. I regret the use of the phrase “you all”, I meant it as a collective pronoun referring to the conservative Christians that dominate public life in America.

Brian Sherwin May 10, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Hmmmm so are you critical of Jerry Saltz, Art Fag City, and Hyperallergic for being
involved with ArtPrize considering that one of the main financial backers of
ArtPrize happens to be an organization that has worked against gay rights, workers rights…. and strives to make creationism and other views a standard in education? If we are going to make this an argument based on principles… I would think that you would take offense by this connection.

Erik Peterson May 10, 2012 at 3:45 pm

Your powers of analogy are pretty weak Brian. That isn’t anywhere near an equivalent situation. I would not personally work with an organization that supported those goals, but even in your article on the subject you are unable to establish a clear link between ArtPrize itself and a conservative or anti-gay agenda. I think ArtPrize itself is a pretty stupid idea, and I would not hesitate to criticize anyone who supports it. If you really think I should make a list right now of everyone I think is hypocritical and why (the list would include Paddy Johnson and Jerry Saltz for sure), I’d be happy to, but it would have nothing to do with the topic we’re debating here.

Brian Sherwin May 10, 2012 at 3:49 pm

 No clear link? Really? Look up the DeVos Foundation and decide for yourself.

Erik Peterson May 10, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Again thank you for ignoring the content of my comment. You’re doing a very good job of proving my point for me. As I said, I would be happy to criticize ArtPrize, Paddy, or Jerry. What I was indicating is that though it is clear that the DeVos foundation has funded and continues to fund ArtPrize, ArtPrize itself espouses no public position of bigotry. I’m not naïve enough to think that this means that there isn’t an agenda to the DeVos foundation’s contributions, but you shouldn’t be naïve enough to think that it’s an equivalent situation to Kincade.

Brian Sherwin May 10, 2012 at 4:04 pm

 OR you just don’t want to piss specific people off.

Erik Peterson May 10, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Brian I think my attitude here evidences that I don’t give a shit about pissing people off. I just said I would be happy to be critical of Paddy or Jerry Saltz’s involvement with Artprize. You’re just really bad at arguing.

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