Thomas "Painter of Darkness" Kinkade, the world's single most objectionable mass-producer of wall-hangings for middle American Baptists, is not just a terrible offender against aesthetics—he's also a crook!

An appeals court has awarded $2.1 million to two gallery owners who say they were duped into selling Kinkade's schlock, then double-crossed by the Godly master himself in a scheme designed to let Kinkade buy out his own company at a low price:

In its February 2006 decision, the arbitration panel said Kinkade and other company officials used terms like "partner," "trust," "Christian" and "God" to create "a certain religious environment designed to instill a special relationship of trust" with the couple.

What the company didn't tell them, said their attorney, was that they would have to sell Kinkade's works at minimum retail prices while the artist undercut them with discount sales, some of which he made himself on cable television.

It was part of a plan, they claimed, to lower the value of the publicly traded company before Kinkade bought it in 2004, at steep losses to many investors.

Ruining the living rooms of half of the grandparents' houses in the Midwest wasn't enough for you, you monster?
[SF Chronicle via Unbeige]