Things are getting heavy for the "Painter of Light." Less than a week after Thomas Kinkade's production company filed for bankruptcy protection — momentarily thwarting a $1 million damage claim by disgruntled former business associates — the famed kitsch artist was arrested for alleged drunk driving outside of Carmel, California. According to news reports, the 52-year-old painter was arrested around 10 p.m. on Friday and spent the night in jail.
According to a report in the Sacramento Bee's Sacto 9-1-1 blog, Kinkade was pulled over outside of the city — made famous by cinematic lawman Clint Eastwood, its onetime mayor — for a code violation and was subjected to "tests to determine that [he] was impaired." California Highway Patrol officials have not released the artist's blood-alcohol level.
A drunk-driving arrest would not be the first time that Kinkade, who has assiduously cultivated an atmosphere of Christian faith around his multi-million-dollar art operation, has gotten into trouble for Gibsonesque bad behavior under the influence. Four years ago, several former dealers who opened franchise galleries to sell the artist's popular illumination-drenched paintings accused his company of defrauding them and described a series of inebriated acts by an out-of-control Kinkade.
According to a 2006 report in the Los Angeles Times, these included: "incidents in which an allegedly drunken Kinkade heckled illusionists Siegfried and Roy; cursed a former employee's wife who came to his side when he fell off a barstool; fondled a startled woman's breasts at a signing party; and urinated on a Winnie the Pooh figure at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim." During that last flourish, the report continued, an ex-employee "heard him utter, "This one's for you, Walt," as he relieved himself on the Disney figure."
In 2008, a movie named after one of Kinkade's paintings, The Christmas Cottage, was released, telling the hardscrabble tale of "Thomas Kinkade" and "Maryanne Kinkade" as they struggled to hold onto their beloved home. The film featured a performance by Lawrence of Arabia screen legend Peter O'Toole.