Thomas Kinkade, noted maker of visual Muzak, recently teamed up with his best friend God to scam two former gallery owners out of their life savings. The problem, of course, with running scams with God is that if you get caught and your marks sue you for all the money you and the deity cost them, you'll end up paying for it because God has no money. Which is why Kinkade now owes the gallery owners $2.1 million, not payable in paintings that look as if they were dipped in God's tears.
From the SF Chronicle:
Kinkade is a born-again Christian who uses religious themes in his art and his marketing, and once said that "God became my art agent" after his conversion.
In their lawsuit, Hazlewood and Spinello, former San Ramon residents who operated their art galleries in Virginia and were married at the time, said the company had exploited their faith to reel them in.
At a weeklong presentation for prospective Kinkade Signature Gallery owners, company executives "said they would support us as partners in spreading the light," Spinello said at the time of the arbitration award. "They said their business was blessed."
In its February 2006 decision, the arbitration panel said Kinkade and other company officials used terms like "partner," "trust," "Christian" and "God" to create "a certain religious environment designed to instill a special relationship of trust" with the couple.
What the company didn't tell them, said their attorney, was that they would have to sell Kinkade's works at minimum retail prices while the artist undercut them with discount sales, some of which he made himself on cable television. It was part of a plan, they claimed, to lower the value of the publicly traded company before Kinkade bought it in 2004, at steep losses to many investors.
God is my art agent? You should t-shirt that phrase before Urban Outfitters gets a hold of it, Kinkade. Maybe you can make it into a night-light as well.
This isn't the first time Kinkade has been accused of teaming up with God to wreak financial havok on unsuspecting gallery owners. Back in 2006, The LA Times wrote an article about Kinkade's alleged shady God-draped dealings, but also about some of his alleged past behaviors (which Kinkade subsequently denied), including this perfectly average reaction to a Seigfried & Roy show in Las Vegas:
Dandois recounted that about six years ago the artist was so intoxicated during a performance by Siegfried & Roy in Las Vegas that people seated nearby moved away from him.
"I think it was Roy or Siegfried or whatever had a codpiece in his leotards," Dandois testified. "And so when the show started, Thom [Kinkade] just started yelling, 'Codpiece, codpiece,' and had to be quieted by his mother and Nanette."
When you yell "codpiece!" with God, you never yell "codpiece!" alone, right, Kinkade? But that incident was just research for Kinkade's later cheese-masterwork, "Viva Las Vegas."
If you look hard at the center of the painting, then cross your eyes, God's magnificent codpiece jumps out at you in all it's 3-D glory. Thank you, Thomas Kinkade for making this majestic Magic Eye poster.