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Kinkade art auction money misses its mark

Bruce Colbert/The Daily Courier<p>
Then-gallery manager Ernie Migliorini shows off Thomas Kinkade's original sketch in this file photo from March.

Bruce Colbert/The Daily Courier<p> Then-gallery manager Ernie Migliorini shows off Thomas Kinkade's original sketch in this file photo from March.

PRESCOTT - Thomas Kinkade, "The Painter of Light," left some darkness in Prescott this past March after his standing-room-only appearance at the Elks Opera House.

More than 500 Kinkade fans viewed his art, listened to his motivational talk and watched him sketch an original charcoal drawing for auction. Kinkade and staffer Jason McCall told the audience that the auction was for two charities - Make-A-Wish Foundation and Yavapai Big Brothers Big Sisters (see "Thomas Kinkade wows crowd" at dCourier.com, March 24).

A Phoenix couple won the signed sketch for $12,000. However, few in the audience knew that the Thomas Kinkade Company would keep 80 percent of the money - $9,600 - and the leftover $2,400 was for the gallery to donate to charity.

"I knew that before the auction," Randy Sisk, former co-owner of the Northern Arizona Kinkade Gallery in Prescott said. "The problem is the announcer and Kinkade said that the money goes to charities, and people assumed it was all of it."

Kathleen Murphy, Yavapai Big Brothers Big Sisters president and CEO, wrote in an e-mail that YBBBS never was an intended recipient of the charity auction. However, a flyer announcing the March Kinkade show listed YBBBS as a recipient of the auction proceeds. The organization did not receive money from the auction and Murphy said she never expected that it would.

That left the Make-A-Wish Prescott chapter as the auction's sole recipient.

Sisk and his wife Dee Blaschke, who together sold the gallery in June, did not give Make-A-Wish the money. Instead, Sisk said that he gave Frank Shankwitz, co-founder of Make-A-Wish Foundation, a Kinkade print that could be auctioned.

Shankwitz is traveling in South Dakota and could not be reached for comment.

"We haven't gotten a thing so far," Mallory Jackson, Wish and Outreach Coordinator for the Prescott chapter said. "It's just really sad."

Mark Korthals, director of Community Outreach and Wish Delivery in the Phoenix office, said that the terms of the charity auction - 80 percent to the Kinkade Company and 20 percent to the Kinkade Gallery - were not explained to him.

"I talked to a representative of the Kinkade Company and he got quite defensive and upset at me," Korthals said. "I told him that they (Kinkade and McCall) stood right on that stage and said 50 percent would go to each charity."

What Korthals and others in the audience did not know was that it is 50 percent of 20 percent after the Kinkade Company takes its cut.

Kathleen Moon, Kinkade Company senior executive assistant, said the company "fulfilled our commitment."

"The sketch sold for $12,000 and the gallery sent us our $9,600," she said. "The galleries do not send us the full auction amount. They send us our 80 percent, which in this situation was $9,600."

She added that "the gallery chooses the charity" and "we do not control those funds."

Sisk said that he fulfilled his commitment by donating a Kinkade print to Shankwitz. He said that if he had known how Kinkade and McCall would characterize the charity auction, he would have explained the 80/20 percent terms of the auction to the audience.

Debby Braun-Fricke, new co-owner with her husband, Jim, of the Prescott Kinkade gallery, said that she had not heard about the auction or the money for charity. Because the Frickes are relatively new business owners, she said that she did not anticipate inviting Kinkade to Prescott "anytime soon."

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