Billion Dollar Painter

The Triumph and Tragedy of Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light
Narrated by: Jim Meskimen
Length: 9 hrs and 29 mins
Categories: Arts & Entertainment, Art
4.4 out of 5 stars (86 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The unbelievable true story of artist Thomas Kinkade, self-described "Painter of Light," and the dramatic rise - and fall - of his billion-dollar gallery and licensing business.

He was just one man, but Thomas Kinkade ultimately made more money from his art than every other artist in the history of the world combined. His sentimental paintings of babbling brooks, rural churches surrounded by brilliant fall foliage, and idyllic countryside cottages were so popular in the 1990s that it is estimated that one out of every 20 homes in America owned one of his prints. With the help of two partners - a former vacuum-cleaner salesman and an ambitious junior accountant who fancied himself a businessman - Kinkade turned his art into a billion-dollar gallery and licensing business that traded on the New York Stock Exchange before it collapsed in 2006 amid fraud accusations.

One part fascinating business story about the rise and demise of a financial empire born out of divine inspiration, one part dramatic biography, Billion Dollar Painter is the account of three nobodies who made it big. One was a man who, despite being a devout Christian who believed his artwork was a spiritual force that could cure the sick and comfort the poor in spirit, could not save his art empire - or himself.

G. Eric Kuskey, former colleague of Thomas Kinkade and close friend until the artist's death in 2012, tells Kinkade's story for the first time, from his art's humble beginnings on a sidewalk in Carmel, California, to his five-house compound in Monte Sereno. It's a tale of addiction and grief, of losing control, and ultimately, of the price of our dreams.

©2014 G. Eric Kuskey (P)2014 Blackstone Audiobooks

What listeners say about Billion Dollar Painter

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Very enlightening - pun intended

If you could sum up Billion Dollar Painter in three words, what would they be?

More Tragedy than Triumph

What other book might you compare Billion Dollar Painter to and why?

Can't think of one

Have you listened to any of Jim Meskimen’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Not that I know of. I thought his performance was very good. I don't remember much about it which is what makes it good. What should be remembered is the story, not the narrator. If they can fade into the background, or seem as if the author is talking to you, I think that is a successful narration.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It just made me sad. What a waste of talent.

Any additional comments?

I really enjoyed hearing about the life of Thomas Kinkade. I watched his rise and fall but I didn't really know the whole story. I certainly had never heard he was an alcoholic. I thought the fact that the book was written by a friend who saw much of what happened first hand made it a better book. He was able to portray Thomas Kinkade in an honest and sympathetic way. Even if you aren't that familiar with Thomas Kinkade's art it is a story worth telling and listening to. It is sad to say that so many creative people have problems in business and in their personal life.

4 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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WOW- very good and very bad at the same time

Would you try another book from G. Eric Kuskey and/or Jim Meskimen?

no

What could G. Eric Kuskey have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Find an editor, then listened to her. Stop repeating, not only events, but the exact terms and overwrought adjectives used to describe them. Stop writing a non-fiction book in the prosaic language of Steinbeck. It was a pistol in the hands of a toddler. You used omniscient narration in a non-fiction book, in scenes at which you were not even present, describing the inner thoughts and feelings of characters in absurd flowery detail. Stop ignoring redundancy and alliteration: "my empathic pang of the pain...".

Have you listened to any of Jim Meskimen’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Very good narration.

Could you see Billion Dollar Painter being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

Danny McBride

Any additional comments?

This was a very interesting and well structured non-fiction story, but you'll have to sift through a cluttered "swap meet" of silly writing to find it. Virtually no editing seems to have been done. Some motifs were repeated four or five times using the exact same language. The POV flopped from omnisciently describing the inner emotions of a character alone to a suddenly austere, first-person witness blithely unaware of another's motives. The story was good. The audible performance too. But my god, the repetition. And also the repetition. And did I mention the...

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

AVANT GARDE AND "ART CRITICS" BE DAMNED!!

As an artist, years ago, I once heard another artist (with pretty poor artistic skills, in my opinion) put down Thomas Kincaid with this snooty words "I don't consider him an artist!" I thought "what in the hell? Where did THAT judgment come from?" Who sat in some ivory tower and handed down the "official" definition of what an artist is? Ridiculous!! Thomas Kincaid was every bit a true artist, as far as I'm concerned. Yes, much of his work may have looked formulaic--so what? He painted what he felt. He painted what was in his heart! Sure, many will argue that all the feverish reproduction frenzy and product licensing that put his images on a million different things could be interpreted as cheap commercializing or whatever. And yes, many of the business people associated with his art had nothing but dollar signs in mind, and many investors were hurt by that. But I will not detract one bit from giving the man full credit for an incredible body of work that found resonance with hundreds of millions of people!!! His story was indeed fascinating. He struggled with personal demons (I haven't met a child of God on this planet that hasn't!)
All-in-all, this was a GREAT audiobook!!

5 people found this helpful

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Good book!

This book was good however I didn't expect as muck talk about his business empire but in the end it all made sense.

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Tale of Two Stories

Once upon a time there was a boy that loved doing his art. Happily he met others that enabled him to do exclusive what he loved. Create Art. His art allowed masses of others to feel that love that they freely returned to him, many times over. He in fact excelled and his appeal held the largest audience ever reached by any artist in history for various reasons explained. Tragically as usually the case his success not only allowed him pursue his first love exclusively, but also his second, that of self-destruction through self medication. A success story marred by the unfortunate end of an untreated illness. Addiction as a disease at the time had not yet attained mainstream acceptance. Though this story is not the subject of the book, I as an artist who too have enjoyed success and suffered the same affliction yet have been fortunate enough to find help that have changed many chapters of my life and career do not find fault with anyone in both stories. It is one that needs to be told, read and learned from. Excellent. Thomas S. Cleveland, Master Artist Designer U. S. Mint. AIP.

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A wonderful telling of a tragic story

The story gives an insider's view of Thomas Kinkade. It was well crafted and I appreciate the story being told by someone who was there rather than someone' account based on news reports and a few interviews. Jim Meskimen is a masterful narrator who conveys a story with clarity and warmth. He is one of the best.

2 people found this helpful

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Thomas Kinkade the Artist Religious Hypocrite

Wow what a Messed up Artist!!!! A total hypocrite who touted religious paintings yet cheated and ripped off people...The guys who worked with him who preached Christian beliefs partied with him and never stopped him. I more than ever dislike this Artist and cannot understand why his wife even put up with the total lie.

1 person found this helpful

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Wow

Really well written, and very good narration. Amazing story. I couldn't turn it off. Thanks

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Captivating and Honest

An excellent look at the blessings and curses - the contradictions - that made up the talented and fascinating icon. Thorough, honest and fair, this insider's experiences draw the listener in with the vivid depiction of a life lived to the fullest. It leaves one wishing the light were still shining brightly for all to enjoy.

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Riveting!

What a story! The more I listened, the more I was drawn to it. How terribly sad the way alcohol affected this man's life! The grief it brought upon himself and his family. Money sure does not buy happiness! I've always believed that, but this book sure brings that point home. I'll never look at his paintings in quite the same way again. They are utterly beautiful, but when you know the truth of the painter behind them, all you can think is "how sad!" Interesting story. The narrator is very good! He did a superb job, actually.

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  • Julie Artist
  • 03-04-18

Review

There are very few audio books I have listened to more than once; I have listened to this three times now. The story is both fascinating and tragic, a story of an artist with great talent and success but also a story of human frailty and self doubt. There were two versions of Thomas Kinkade, the first was the carefully crafted public image and the second one haunted by insecurities and darker thoughts. Thomas Kinkade was the richest and most successful ever living artist yet many people haven’t heard of him. This is a story that proves happiness comes from within, and money and success are only external. Ultimately if you can’t accept yourself life will always be difficult. Despite having it all it wasn’t enough, hard to listen to but well written.