The late Thomas Kinkade, though dismissed by the critics, was the most successful American painter in history. Part of that success was due to Kinkade’s prolific output. Many people have Kinkades in their homes. Typically, when a famed artist dies, his or her work goes up in value. But what is the investment or resale potential of owning a Kinkade today?
Snatched up like hotcakes
Kinkade passed away Friday at the age of 54 for causes that have yet to be determined. In the wake of that tragic news, Kinkade’s paintings are being snatched up like hotcakes. The Village Gallery in Laguna Beach, Calif., where Kinkade often appeared to meet fans and sign paintings, sold a record $70,000 worth of Kinkades on the day following his death.
Pam Martin, who, with her husband Martin, owns the Village Gallery, told the Laguna Beach Patch:
“People pretty much cleaned our walls off.”
According to the Associated Press, “Other galleries across the country that specialize in Kinkade’s work are reporting a similar surge in sales.”
Investment potential questionable
But did buyers who purchased the paintings as an investment spend their money wisely? The proliferation of Kinkades and their lack of critical praise make it a dicey proposition that his work will increase in value. Most dealers say that buying a Kinkade for sentimental value is fine, but don’t do so expecting to make money off the deal.
Art historian Deborah Solon said at a recent symposium:
“While he was probably the most financially successful artist in the United States, the resale value of his works: very, very limited.”
Most Kinkade paintings available are factory-made reproductions that Kinkade never laid his hands on. The Religion News Service said that Kinkade’s factory put out more than 500 reproductions a day. In his career, Kinkade was criticized for charging high prices for the copies.
Some Kinkade reproductions were touched up by another artist “under the supervision” of the artist to increase their market value. It is unlikely Kinkade ever saw those canvases either.
Kinkade originals are, of course, much more rare and will generally command hundreds of thousands of dollars from collectors. They will not come cheap if you are able to find one, and it is dubious that its value will increase much with time, given Kinkade’s general cold shoulder from the critics.
Sell originals now
If you do own an original — in his early career, Kincaid sold paintings for as low as $35 a canvas — now would be the moment to sell them. The proximity of Kinkade’s demise has made a temporary spike in the value of his original paintings. According to the Washington Post, one consignor marked up a Kinkade original $40,000 over the weekend.
However, experts say that Kinkade’s death will not affect the value of the reproductions, even in the short term.