now this is what abuse looks like in the art world. yucky. and add in thomas kinkade (super-yucky) and fake christianity (ultra-yucky with a side of yuck sauce) and you have...below:
Painter Said to Be Focus of FBI Probe
By Kim Christensen
Times Staff Writer
August 29, 2006
The FBI is investigating allegations that self-styled "Painter of Light" Thomas Kinkade and some of his top executives fraudulently induced investors to open galleries and then ruined them financially, former dealers contacted by federal agents said.
Investigators are focusing on issues raised in civil litigation by at least six former Thomas Kinkade Signature Gallery owners, people who have been contacted by the FBI said.
The ex-owners allege in arbitration claims that, among other things, the artist known for his dreamily luminous landscapes and street scenes used his Christian faith to persuade them to invest in the independently owned stores, which sell only Kinkade's work.
"They really knew how to bait the hook," said one former dealer who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the case. "They certainly used the Christian hook."
Kinkade has denied the allegations in the civil litigation.
Two former dealers told the Los Angeles Times that they had been asked to provide documentation of their business relationships with Kinkade's company. They said agents asked for copies of dealer agreements, retail sales policies, training materials from "Thomas Kinkade University" and correspondence, including e-mail.
Kinkade Co. spokesman Jim Bryant said Monday that the Morgan Hill, Calif.-based company was unaware of a criminal investigation and had not been contacted by the FBI or federal prosecutors.
"The Thomas Kinkade Co. asserts that there is no legitimate grounds for a federal investigation of any kind," Bryant wrote by e-mail.
FBI Special Agent Brian Wickham declined to comment Monday, citing the bureau's policy of neither confirming nor denying the existence of investigations in progress.