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Sales of Kinkade artwork surge after painter dies

Associated Press Modified: April 9, 2012 at 7:45 pm •  Published: April 9, 2012

PLACERVILLE, Calif. (AP) — In Thomas Kinkade's hometown, at the gallery where his art career first took off, an original painting by the self-described "Painter of Light" sat unsold for years. Buyers were perhaps deterred by the $110,000 asking price.

The painting, "Sunday Outing," was being sold on consignment, and when word came Friday night that Kinkade had died, its owner called and asked for the selling price to be raised to $150,000, gallerist Nathan Ross said Monday. The painting sold hours later.

It wasn't the only one. Barraged with orders from customers in person, on the phone and online, Ross has called in as much extra help as he can find. He said on a typical day he'll sell one to five Kinkade pieces through the gallery's website.

In the last 48 hours, he says he's received about 300 online orders.

"Phones are just ringing nonstop. We have five lines and they're constantly lit up. People are waiting in line to buy paintings," Ross said. "It's just been a real juggling match to make sure everyone gets taken care of."

Other galleries across the country that specialize in Kinkade's work are reporting a similar surge in sales following the popular painter's death at age 54.

John Vassallo, who owns five Kinkade galleries in New York and New Jersey, says sales on Saturday reached half his typical sales for the entire month of December, the busiest month of the year. Like most Kinkade retailers, Vassallo traffics not in originals but limited edition reproductions, many of which come hand-signed by the artist himself.

Any piece with Kinkade's original signature is in high demand at a cost of $8,000 to $15,000, said Vassallo, who counted Kinkade as a personal friend.

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