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Updated: Thomas Kinkade Dies in Monte Sereno

Famous American painter died Friday at the age of 54.

Update: 8:30 a.m., April 7: A woman who answered the phone Saturday morning at the Monte Sereno home owned by the late American painter Thomas Kinkade said she was with him when he died Friday.

"I am his live-in girlfriend. I've been with him 18 months. My name is Amy Pinto and him and his wife have been separated ... She made a statement (about his death to the media)," she said.

When asked when the famous artist had died, she responded: "I was with him. I'm the one who called 911."

As to the cause of death, she said she wasn't supposed to divulge the information and that the Santa Clara County Coroner's Office would have more details in the next few days.

However, she stated she had a hunch as to the nature of the death. "He died in his sleep ... He had a heart condition. I called 911 at 11:30 a.m."

Pinto said Kinkade's wife and family were out of town and that the couple had been separated for two years. "He was in his sleep and he was happy and he was in his home," she said. "He was surrounded by his paintings, which he loved the most, and the home he built," her voice breaking as she spoke.

Los Gatos-Monte Sereno police sources confirmed Saturday that Pinto had called 911 to report the death at about 11:30 a.m. Friday, April 6.

Jeanine Bugh, wife of former Monte Sereno mayor Curtis Wright— a friend of Kinkade's—said the painter and wife Nanette attended several of their winter solstice and dinner parties at their Grandview Avenue home. "They had been so proud of their longtime marriage, but in recent years, they lived apart so that Thom could be the 'free spirit of an artist.' The ending of an era. We miss him already," she said.

8 p.m., April 6: The Los Gatos arts community was mourning the death of America's "Painter of Light" Friday with news that Thomas Kinkade had died.

"Thom," as he was dearly called by friends and fellow artists in Los Gatos, is being remembered for bringing art to mainstream America, regardless of income levels and socio-economic backgrounds.

"He had come to be an extremely affable man," said Los Gatos painter David Stonesifer, whose paintings grace local homes along with those of Kinkade's. "He was acting like a free spirit ... it was sort of like the kind of thing you wish would have happened to him years ago to have it reflected in his paintings."

Stonesifer said he was "deeply saddened with the news."

Millions of his "Kinkade paintings" adorn walls throughout family rooms across the country—his paintings trying to capture small-town Americana.

Kinkade, 54, was born and raised in the Placerville, Calif., attended UC Berkeley and worked as an artist in the film industry. He began publishing his images so that he could share his passion for beauty and art.

A quarter of a century later, Kinkade had painted more than 1,000 masterworks covering topics that include cabin and nature scenes, beautiful gardens, classic cottages, sports, inspirational content, lighthouses and powerful seascapes, impressionists, and classic Americana, his website said.

"Hidden in his paintings are messages that speak to Thom's inspiration for each image. Whether including the initials of family members, hiding Disney characters, or imbedding hearts for special occasions and loved ones, each image contain treasures that add to their mystique."

Sources, who declined to be identified, said Kinkade was estranged from his wife Nanette and had changed his lifestyle considerably in the last three years.

They also said Kinkade was no longer living at his Ridgecrest Avenue home in Monte Sereno and had grown a beard, sported a hat and wore more casual clothing.

Longtime friend Curtis Wright, former mayor of Monte Sereno, expressed his condolences and said Kinkade used to say he didn't make art, but heirlooms for those who bought his works.

"He was a young guy and a great person. I really liked him," Wright said, adding that he knew his wife and family well and remembered Kinkade donated large sums of money to his children's schools and supported the Los Gatos Morning Rotary Plein Air art show held annually in Los Gatos.

"He really tried to do a lot of stuff for the community and I really admire him for that," Wright said. "He had some factions between being the cool artist and being a father and husband, but when you look back on it, he did amazing things for the community and the world."

Similarly, Monte Sereno Councilwoman Lana Malloy said she was shocked with the news. "I didn't know him personally, but I have seen in at council meetings. It's great loss to Monte Sereno because anyone who is well known passing away is tragic and he was such a famous painter," Malloy said.

Los Gatos community advocate Jonathan Knowles said Kinkade touched many lives. "He was intelligent, creative, generous, and fun. We will miss him, but he will certainly live on through his art," he said.

Knowles said he learned of the death from his mother-in-law who called him after reading the sad news online. "We're very sad. We thought of him as not only a great artist, but we enjoyed spending time with him and Nanette," he said. "These days, 54 seems so young ... "

Among Kinkade's contributions to Los Gatos and Monte Sereno was his willingness to step up and be a part of community efforts and strongly supported the Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Foundation, said Knowles.

He did two paintings of Los Gatos which he donated to the foundation—one of which hangs at the Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Operations Building on Los Gatos Boulevard. He also participated and generously contributed to the foundation's fundraising event A Taste of Los Gatos.

Knowles noted his legacy and his business, Thomas Kinkade Company, is continuing the thrive with his paintings being replicated in Hallmark ornaments, Christmas cards, calendars, etc. "Thomas Kinkade reaches beyond the paintings people hang on their walls," Knowles said.

A movie about his life was released in 2008 under the name Thomas Kinkade's Christmas Cottage and told the story of how Kinkade chose the art form after realizing his mother could lose her family home.

johnny April 07, 2012 at 02:04 PM
"anyone passing away who is well known is tragic".......let's all keep electing these "Most Popular - Class of 19XX" types....we get what we deserve. RIP Thom I love your work, whenever I pass Strawberry Lodge I think of you.
Robert Menkemeller April 07, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Such sad news to hear. I loved Thomas's work and offer my condolences to the family for their loss. My sister bought one of his paintings about 10 years ago when her and I were spending a day together up in Napa. So it's one of those moments in life that you never forget and every time I see his painting at my sisters, remember that wonderful day we had together. I also love that Thomas had such an incredible ability to "show the light" in his paintings. May his light shine on in all our hearts while we remember this gifted man and mourn his loss. Sad he was so young still. R.I.P.
Jim Thrall April 07, 2012 at 04:46 PM
Sad news, best to his family. Gone too soon for sure. Thanks for the art.
Gwen Reandeau April 07, 2012 at 07:47 PM
I have some prints of his work - he was certainly a talented painter and will be missed. The Creator must have a better plan for him elsewhere.
Tim Lundell April 07, 2012 at 09:56 PM
Thom was a complicated man, and was far from perfect. In fact, he was far from the being the best artist. But his paintings brought a tremendous amount of happiness to many, many people....including my Mom, whose living room in Portland prominently featured a large framed print of one of his cozy seaside scenes.
Tim Lundell April 07, 2012 at 10:00 PM
Yes, he did that painting, and made prints, in support of a fundraiser for Los Gatos Morning Rotary Club shortly after we formed the organization in 2003. He did that again the following year, and we received much-needed proceeds in excess of $20,000. We will always be indebted to his memory for that support.
Irene Aida Garza-Ortiz April 07, 2012 at 10:19 PM
Janice Martinez, I'm sorry you miss understood my comments. And judged me instead. I just was stating a fact! GOD is the only one that knows are hearts. I happen to know his family & they know how I feel.....
Keca Maher April 07, 2012 at 10:50 PM
My husband and I had the rare chance of meeting you and Nanette in Az. My prayers go out to his family. I am happy that he touched our lives in his art. Im sure he will be painting the heavens.
Sharon Wilson April 08, 2012 at 04:48 AM
It isn't worth more, the whole world has his paintings, I included. They were printed en masse.
Sharon Wilson April 08, 2012 at 04:50 AM
Great family? He was living with his girlfriend when he died.
M neisler April 08, 2012 at 10:29 AM
I am so sorry to hear of Thomas' death. He professed to be a Christian and only God can judge but living unmarried with this girlfriend that reported his death, is against God's teachings.I am sorry to learn of his alcoholism and seperation from his wife. He must have been a troubled man..so sad..I will treasure my small collection of his work. Thanks, Thomas, for sharing your talents with the world.
Sheena Ricarte April 08, 2012 at 02:40 PM
Thank you Mr. Kinkade for the wonderful paintings. I learned about you when I bought your book, "The Art of Creative Living : Making Every Day a Radiant Masterpiece" four years ago in Rhode Island. You're certainly gifted and one of this world's treasures. Looking at your paintings made me realize that God certainly exists, is perfect, and made you His instrument for us to see the beauty of this world which He has created as a gift for us. I'm very impressed and amazed with your works and will always be a devoted fan of your paintings. Until then, Mr. Kinkade. Take care always :) One of your most impressed and amazed fans, Sheena Ricarte
Mckenna Smith April 09, 2012 at 09:08 PM
Pacific Standard has published an article examining the beautiful art of Thomas Kinkade. Find it here: http://www.miller-mccune.com/culture/thomas-kinkade-dies-scholars-look-at-his-impact-40554/
Linda Damarjian April 09, 2012 at 10:23 PM
Our hearts are so saddened to hear of Thom's passing. We love & collect his art and also the Thom we use to hear and follow a few years back. We are also so sorry to hear that he was living the ungodly life style that was stated in this article. Only God knews his heart and if he was a true Christian, living in sin that he wouldn't repent of. God may have taken him home due to his unrepentant heart as the Bible teaches.That's just a possible senario. Only God knows, but I do pray for his family. This has to be so difficult for them all. Praying for you all. Our hearts are heavy.
Mjbcoffee April 10, 2012 at 05:52 AM
We must leave the judging to God and he will......his life makes me think of King David.
Thomas Kincade may the lord take you in his arms in heaven, comfort and bless your family in their time of sorrow and truly strike down the judgemental christians that made the most inappropriate comments listed above!
Clint April 10, 2012 at 07:52 PM
We do not need your hypocritical bull shit of stating your personal opinions of Thom's wrong doings. Keep your bull shit to yourself and allow Thom to rest in peace and his family the grace to heal. Enjoy your paintings and keep your annoying opinions to yourself.
Clint April 10, 2012 at 07:54 PM
We do not need your hypocritical bull shit of stating your personal opinions of Thom's wrong doings. Keep your bull shit to yourself and allow Thom to rest in peace and his family the grace to heal. Enjoy your paintings and keep your annoying opinions to yourself.
Clint April 10, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Linda Damarjian, you must be a perfect person. How dare you speak ill of the dead. What an idiot you are for assuming God may have taken him home for his lifestyle. Why don't you go fuck yourself.
Clint April 10, 2012 at 08:00 PM
I agree Patricia. God Bless you. I cannot believe the nerve people have to pass judgment. It makes me sick. Could you imagen Jesus gathering people around him for the purpose of speaking ill of others? Where do people come up with this stuff?
Georgia Dixon April 11, 2012 at 07:12 PM
Thomas Kinkade's paintings made me want to escape and lose myself in the world he depicted. They helped me feel warmth, optimism and peacefulness and most of all, contentment. Like me, I am sure his paintings brought joy to millions. I do not envy his success - in fact, I think it's such a phenomenon that a young man who started out poor shared his talent with us and was rewarded for it - that's a great American success story. Yes, he was both a man of faith and many of his pictures underscored patriotism, as well. I hear his pictures derided as being too saccharine, on the level of motel paintings, or lacking in ethnicity. When I see his paintings, I see beauty and feel comforted. Kinkade was a real person like all of us. He had a DUI not long ago, and he and his wife had separated. I am not going to judge him for living under the same roof with his girlfriend. Other posts from people who knew him describe him as being self-effacing and down-to-earth. Thom, as you liked to be called, I am sure you are now surrounded in His loving embrace and in the midst of indescribable light, love, glory and wonder.
Joanne April 14, 2012 at 01:31 AM
People Who Live In Glass Houses Should Not Throw Stones... I wonder if M NEISLER is perfect. In times like this, I wish people will look at themselves first before casting any judgments. I hope your friends who knows about your darkest dirt will not approach your family when they're mourning and tell your family about all the things you did that are "against God's teachings". Since you're an expert of God's teachings, just wondering why you don't have a heart and doesn't have self control on your tongue. Surely you know about the effect of the "tongue"
joan April 14, 2012 at 01:57 AM
Linda, please don't bother praying for Mr. Kinkade's family.... the prayers of the righteous avails much.... NOT the prayers of the SELF-righteous avails much. Really, make a list of what've you've done today and account for all the "sinful" things you did.... Mr. Kinkade will probably look like a saint after you're done with your list. No doubt Mr. Kinkade's talents have brought a lot of joy and peace to a lot of people and that's what matters.
joan April 14, 2012 at 02:04 AM
Mr. Kuramoto: Thank you for sharing. Stories like these never made the press and we would not have known without you sharing. Finding out about people's personal accounts are heart-warming.
Barbara Turner April 25, 2012 at 05:21 AM
I loved Thomas Kincaide's work and have a large print my exhusband bought for me around 15 years ago. I did not know Thomas personally and I do not have anything bad to say about him and all the inappropriate comments and ugly words are from people who do not know real love. If that's all you have, why don't you just read a book.
Deborah Anne May 05, 2012 at 05:19 AM
As I read these comments they are spilling over with people that have no empathy with his wife. I can't imagine the fear and grief that she endured simply because her husband of whom was blessed with an amazing gift from GOD let that take precedence over her claimed beliefs in family, faithfulness, love, commitment, God and his continued and growing faith. His wife Nanette has endured humiliation by having her husband reject her, his commitment to marriage and their family and allow the bottle get in the way of his bigger-than-life personna that he chose. Clearly, we are all sinners and we all have "fallen short of the Glory of God", but for you people not to have a concern for his wife and the pain that she has endured by making excuses for his sins against her is ....well, sad. He knew he was wrong. He knew he was going against God's will. Righteousness is simply that, right. It comes only from God and us being faithful to God or the rest of us will, could follow in his same steps. By reading many of your comments, you must not understand alcoholism. It is a disease and with that disease, it causes all sorts of problems mentally, morally, spiritually and usually eventually compromises your faith because the "spirits" end up controlling your life NOT GOD. There is no judgement, just truth. His own father had the same issue. Please give Nanette and children empathy, sympathy and your prayers. God knew Thom's heart. Does God know your heart?
katie November 19, 2012 at 10:44 PM
Nannette has a lot of covering up to do. Her 4 breats jobs Merritts DWI in March 2011 along with her domestic violence charge for attacking he boyfriend because he wanted someone else Windsors 2010 charges for shoplifting and pot smoking Nannettes many many many many affairs before and after her separation from Thomas
craig featherstone November 20, 2012 at 03:06 AM
I have been a follower of Christ for 30 years, though very flawed during those years. One of my favorite promises from God is that "His mercies are new every morning." I need them, as did Thom, as do his widow, as do all who are honest. Jesus said to the hypocrites, who judged Him for spending time with the drinkers and prostitutes; "I did not come for the well, but for the sick", then He invited them to heal themselves. I'm so grateful for the Lord's compassion on me and on all of those who call out to Him for mercy. I'm grateful that God can use the art of this flawed man to inspire so many to see something better. And I continue to be stunned that God still uses flawed people like me.
K November 25, 2012 at 07:56 AM
I am so saddened by the loss of Thom Kinkade still! =(( His paintings brought me a "peace" that I cannot describe! I can't afford his paintings....so instead I upload them as screen savers onto my laptop and cell phone! I just love his work! My prayer is that others will also be blessed with his work! Such an extraordinary man! God Bless his family as well.
K November 25, 2012 at 08:03 AM
Its also very embarrassing and disappointing how many negative posts are on here...how childish and ignorant people can be when we have lost a great soul!! Wow. This world is truly sad.... =( May God Bless you all.

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