Dear Mr. Berko: In 1993, my husband and I purchased two Thomas Kinkade scenic paintings for $28,000. We think they are beautiful and still marvel at the colors and scenes. We are cleaning house, getting rid of lots kitsch and clutter that we accumulated during our past 50 years of marriage and travel and were surprised to learn that the buyer placed such a low value on our Kinkades. While we do not wish to sell them, we were astonished to discover that a Kinkade is virtually worthless and we were offered $1,600. We have 7 other pieces of art that have appreciated significantly in value and can't imagine why a Kinkade would be almost worthless. And by the way, the only piece of art we are selling is a Picasso we inherited in 1986, only because it is so hideously ugly. In fact, we hide it in a guest bathroom. Can you tell us why Thomas Kinkade has lost its value? He recently passed away, and it seems that his work should be worth more.
HG in Rochester, Minn.
Kinkade was ridiculed and called a heretic by the art world because he refused to abide by its incestuous, self-serving boundaries. Kinkade poked holes in their inner sanctum, therefore they didn't look down their noses at him but looked down their chins at him. You won't see a Kinkade hanging in the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim or any of the galleries of New York, London or San Francisco in the next 30 or 40 years. But I believe his originals will gain currency in several generations as the faux guard passes the torch. But Kinkade enthralled Americans. His exquisite reproductions (few originals) of idyllic landscapes and spiritually-themed paintings continue to hang in millions of American homes. Your originals (if they are originals) are worth a fraction of the thousands you paid 20 years ago. And because Kinkade so thoroughly commercialized his art, selling over $100 million annually of prints, numbered prints, signed prints and other reproductions, it will take decades to separate the wheat from the chaff. Though eventually, your originals may take their place among some of the finest art of the 20th century and hang in those august temples of approval.
You bought Kinkade because his art appealed to you. I doubt you bought them hoping in 10 years they would sell for a huge profit. Keep them hanging where they've been for 20 years, continue to enjoy their beauty, then pass them in your will to an appreciative, younger family member. I suspect that the second owner will enjoy a higher value.
Please address your financial questions to Malcolm Berko, P.O. Box 8303, Largo, FL 33775, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.