The mayor of Belleville, New Jersey is learning a quick service about being a public servant.
Due to water issues at the local library, Mayor Michael Melham asked the library board if he could move a painting, “Landscape of Belleville” by Thomas Natt, to his office. They agreed, but there was a dispute about who had authority to move it.
This is no cheap painting. It’s valued at well over $100-thousand. The Belleville Historical Society, which claimed ownership of the painting after it was donated to them in 1962, demanded the art be returned and the mayor said no.
That’s when the backlash started, including some residents demanding Melham be charged with theft. Then, the painting was returned to the library.
To cool things off, the Historical Society has loaned the piece to an art museum at Rutgers University for a period of five years.