Many of you know my absolute hatred of Thomas Kinkade and the schlock he calls art. I'm not exactly sure if I feel sorry for the gallery owners in this case. They were, after all, complicit in fleecing customers out of money for what were essentially posters of bad art. But to see how he manipulated the market against his own dealers in order to buy out his own publicly traded company just proves he truly is Beelzebub.
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. Hazlewood and Spinello put their $122,000 savings into galleries in Charlottesville and Fredericksburg, Va., that opened in 1999 and 2000 and closed in 2003.
An arbitration panel voted unanimously to uphold an earlier finding of fraudulent activity on the part of Kinkade and restored an award of $2.1 million to two gallery owners put out of business.