Whatever you thought about Thomas Kinkade's homespun "paintings of light"—loved, hated, or somewhere in between—you have to admit that he sure was popular.
And ever since his death this past Friday at the age of 54, Kinkade's work has been selling like crazy.
Laguna Beach's Village Gallery, where Kinkade often made personal appearances, had $70,000 worth of Kinkade sales on Saturday, a new record for them.
"People pretty much cleaned our walls off," said Pam Brown, who owns the gallery with her husband, Martin. One customer alone spent $10,000 on Kinkade pieces, Martin tells Laguna Beach Patch.
The Browns had a close business relationship with Kinkade that stretched back 25 years—the gallery's phone number, 888-546-5233, even spells out KIN-KADE—and their gallery would often host signing events with him. He was Village Gallery's best-selling artist even before his death. But now, the rush is on. Art dealers and gallery owners nationwide have experienced similar waves of Kinkade craziness, with buyers scooping up both his originals and his limited edition reproductions.
If you're thinking about scoring some Kinkade of your own, though, you might want to check out these tips first. Note especially the part where you shouldn't expect to cash in on Kinkade pieces just because he's dead, since so many of his pieces were mass-produced.
But as much as Kinkade's passing has been good for gallery business across the country, the Browns would prefer to remember their friend.
"He was an amazing person and had a lot of charisma," said Pam. "He spoke to people. Some would say he got too commercial, with calendars and things, but he wanted to create art for everybody—if you had $15 or $500 or $1,500, he had artwork for you. He was popular because people loved his work. They could be invited to a place in his paintings where they wanted to be."
"Art usually doesn’t reach that many people," said Martin. "He made collectors out of a lot of people."
"I was very shocked when I heard the news of his passing, and I'm very sad," continued Pam. "It makes people feel good when they hang his work in their home. You look at it every day, and its something that lasts a lifetime."
An autopsy was performed yesterday, Monday, April 9, to determine Kinkade's cause of death, according to .