Thomas Kinkade, purveyor of kitschy paintings and self-professed born again, has been found guilty of committing fraud against two distributors of his “paintings of light.”
From the article:
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.
Sigh. Regardless of what one may think of Kinkade’s paintings, this is yet another strike against the credibility of believers. Most odious to me is his use of their shared faith to dupe the investors into supporting him.
Perhaps Kinkade rationalized this to himself by saying that the outcome was good – “light” was spread and folks were edified, right?
Yet it’s funny how Jesus never endorsed an “ends justifies the means” ethic – not even for spreading the gospel. We would all do well to remember this.