Painter Thomas Kinkade was ‘drinking all night’ when he died

Thomas Kinkade in 2006. Gene Blythe / AP file

The cause of painter Thomas Kinkade's April 6 death may not be known for months, but according to an emergency call placed that evening, he had been "drinking all night," and his brother says that the artist had relapsed into alcoholism.

"You can be doing real real well and suddenly, the bottle calls you and you fall off," Kinkade's brother Patrick, a professor at Texas Christian University, said of the artist's struggles.

The San Jose Mercury News reported last week that Kinkade's girlfriend, Amy Pinto, called for help after the painter, 54, had stopped breathing.

"Apparently he's been drinking all night and not moving," a fire-department dispatcher says in a recording made by (Listen to the audio from the call.)

Patrick Kinkade told the newspaper this brother had battled alcoholism for years, sobering up and then relapsing before his death. Although Thomas Kinkade's art was loved and purchased by millions, his work was also criticized -- the London Independent dubbed him the "king of kitsch." And his brother says he internalized and struggled with that reaction.

"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 Kinkade told the Mercury News.

Thomas Kinkade struggled with other issues as well. He was separated from his wife, and his company had filed for bankruptcy in 2010. According to a report in The Daily, local police had responded to calls from the painter's house and broken up fights between Kinkade and Pinto.

"He was awfully human," Patrick Kinkade told the Mercury News.

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