Thomas Kinkade's paintings have been selling briskly since he died unexpected Friday at the age of 54 in his Los Gatos home in California, the Associated Press reported.
Nathan Ross, co-owner of the Kinkade Gallery in Placerville, California, said orders for the artist's work have drastically surged in recent days, with about 300 orders already placed online. Ross said one Kinkade original -- Painter of Light -- sold over the weekend for $150,000. The painting had been listed at $110,000 on consignment, but the owner raised the price after Kinkade died. Ross sold another Kinkade original on consigment for $24,000, according to various media reports.
Phones are just ringing nonstop. We have five lines and they're constantly lit up. People are waiting in line to buy paintings, Ross told the AP. It's just been a real juggling match to make sure everyone gets taken care of.
Other galleries across the United States have also seen a spike in sales of Kinkade's work. John Vassallo, who owns five Kinkade galleries in New York and New Jersey, said sales on Saturday's reached nearly half his typical sales for the entire month of December, his busiest month of the year.
Kim Perata, owner of a Kinkade gallery in Napa Valley, said she has sold more than 40 paintings since Saturday; she usually averages 25 in a month.
Allen Michaan, president of Michaan's Auctions in Alameda, said collectors typically scoop up an artist's work after they die. That is a typical reaction. People think when an artist dies, his work goes up in value.
Kinkade's fan base has widened from serious collectors looking to make original purchases to those who are simply curious about his work and are buying their first pieces.
Vassallo told the AP any piece with Kinkade's original signature could fetch $8,000 to $15,000; however, the artist's company hasn't specified the exact sales generated so far.
Critics often panned Kinkade's work. Los Angeles Times art critic Christopher Knight described his paintings as schlocky, while the San Francisco Chronicle's Kenneth Baker said Kinkade had a vocabulary of formulas.
His depictions of idyllic landscapes and biblically themed scenes enjoyed a huge popular following. Despite commercial success, in 2010 one of Kinkade's companies filed for bankruptcy protection just as it had started making payments on a nearly $3 million court award to two former gallery owners, according to the AP.
Kinkade apparently died of what family members believe are natural causes; however, the medical examiner's office is awaiting the results of an autopsy conducted on Monday to determine the exact cause of death.