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Thomas Kinkade reportedly suffered alcoholism relapse before death

Thomas Kinkade
Artist Thomas Kinkade had been battling alcoholism for years and apparently suffered a relapse just prior to his unexpected death last week.

Kinkade’s brother Patrick told the San Jose Mercury News in a story published late Thursday night that years of mean-spirited personal attacks on the painter and a split from his wife and four daughters wore Kinkade down. That led to his battle with alcoholism over the past four to five years.

As The Times reported earlier this week, Kinkade had a huge popular following, but critics were harsh, lambasting his paintings as well as his mass-market business techniques.

PHOTOS: The work of Thomas Kinkade

Kinkade had been "in his studio painting religiously" over the past few months, Patrick said, but apparently relapsed.

On April 6, the dispatcher who sent a fire truck to Kinkade's home reported a “54-year-old male unconscious, not breathing," according to a recording on FireScan.net.

"Apparently he's been drinking all night and not moving," the dispatcher said after Kinkade's live-in girlfriend called 911. He was pronounced dead at his home.

The painter's official cause of death will be determined by the Santa Clara County Coroner’s office, whose autopsy results are still pending.

Patrick Kinkade told the Mercury News that his brother would smile at the criticism but was deeply hurt inside.

"As much as he said it didn't bother him, in his heart deep down inside it would sadden him that people would criticize so hatefully his work and his vision when people didn't understand him," Patrick told the paper.

Over the years, he battled alcoholism. In 2010, the artist was arrested outside of Carmel on suspicion of drunk driving and booked into Monterey County Jail. He later pleaded no contest.

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-- Matt Stevens

Twitter.com/mattstevenslat

Photo: In this Sept. 15, 2006, file photo, artist Thomas Kinkade unveils his painting "Prayer for Peace" in Atlanta. Credit: Gene Blythe / Associated Press

 
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