Dec 9, 2014

Thomas Kinkade bust stolen

A Thomas Kinkade sculpture valued at $7,500 has been stolen from an Indiana gallery.

The bronze head of Christ, one of a limited edition of 30, was stolen from the Thomas Kinkade store in Zionville, Indiana. The owner of the store says it was probably taken during the rush of shoppers on Small Business Saturday, on Thanksgiving Weekend. There is also a parade in Zionville that day, and the store was busy. The sculpture is over 11 inches tall and weighs about 20 pounds. The theft wasn't noted until the next week, according to the Indy Star.

"I walked in the room where the sculpture was, and there's an empty space," Rhonda Crawshaw, gallery manager, was quoted as saying.

When Kinkade sculpted this figure of Christ, he said the 
tilt of the head "seems to link him to heaven and earth."
Kinkade, an evangelical painter who trademarked himself "the Painter of Light," was beloved by fans and reviled by critics, who dismissed his work as kitsch. Kinkade promoted his work through retail outlets, bypassing the art world and its tastemakers and selling directly to middle America. The approach was profitable. At one point, the Kinkade Media Group was selling work at 4,500 outlets  and earning $128 million per year.

He told the Guardian that, despite being written off by critics, "My art is relevant because it's relevant to 10 million people. That makes me the most relevant artist in this culture."

He told the New York Times, "People who put my paintings on their walls are putting their values on their walls: faith, family, home, a simpler way of living, the beauty of nature, quiet, tranquillity, peace, joy, hope."

At the same time, New York Magazine critic Jerry Saltz used Kinkade as proof that art should not be judged democratically or by the market. "It isn't about the biggest market share," Saltz said. "If that were true then Thomas Kinkade would be the greatest artist who ever lived."

Financial didn't bring Kinkade professional respect. It did bring other problems. He was sued over his business practices, and lost one high-profile suit in 2006, which reportedly cost him $2.8 million. When he died in 2012 at the age of 54 from acute intoxication from alcohol and valium, his wife and girlfriend battled over the more than $60-million estate he left behind.

It also brought thieves: a month after Kinkade died, 40 Kinkade paintings worth an estimated $300,000 were stolen from an art dealer in Clovis, Calif. Police named a suspect in the case, and the man was arrested later that year, but the paintings do not appear to have been recovered.

In the Zionville, Ind., case police don't have any suspects. The best chance of recovering the stolen property might ultimately be Kinkade art dealers. The $7,500 art piece, titled "Prince of Peace," in marked No. 8 in the limited edition series.