KSBW.com — Painter Thomas Kinkade battled alcoholism over the past several years and had a relapse just before his sudden death at his Los Gatos home, his brother said.
The self-described “Painter of Light” died on April 6 at age 54.
A family spokesman said he died of natural causes. The Santa Clara County coroner performed an autopsy on Monday, and said his cause of death could not be determined until a toxicology report was completed.
Kinkade’s live-in girlfriend, Amy Pinto, told the Santa Cruz Sentinel he died in his sleep.
“(Kinkade) died in his sleep, very happy, in the house he built, with the paintings he loved, and the woman he loved,” Pinto said. The couple had been dating for 18 months.
Kinkade’s scenes of country gardens and pastoral landscapes led to a commercial empire of franchised galleries, reproduced artwork and spin-off products that was said to fetch some $100 million a year in sales.
But it did not endear Kinkade with the art establishment, who criticized him for appearing to appeal to the widest possible audience.
Those attacks on his work and a split with his wife two years ago took a heavy toll, and he turned to alcohol over the past four or five years, his brother Patrick Kinkade told the San Jose Mercury News.Continue Reading on www.msnbc.msn.com