STEAMBOAT, Colo. — A unique piece of folk art in the form of a wooden cabinet is fetching an $18,508 price tag now that it’s been salvaged from a Routt County barn and appraised.
Steamboat Moxie Home Consignments and Design owner Michelle Caragol said the store had been contacted in early June to pick up some furniture from a Stagecoach home and have it sold on consignment.
While at the home, the homeowners had Moxie take the cabinet, which had been stored in a barn for the past six years. Caragol said the “man cabinet,” as she calls it, had been left at the property when the couple purchased the home in 2006 and that the wife didn’t like it so she put it in the barn.
Caragol said she looked at the cabinet and knew it was folk art but had no idea what it was worth.
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“Typically, we find out it can go one way or another,” Caragol said. “It can be a piece of junk, or it can be really valuable.”
The cabinet owners, who could not be reached for comment, thought the cabinet might be worth $200. They were wrong.
The staff at Moxie began researching and were helped a couple of weeks later by a regular customer and artist, who recognized the cabinet was the work of Stephen Huneck. On the back, they found his signature lightly carved into the wood along with the year 1991.
“It’s in pretty remarkable condition,” said Moxie employee Bryan Antalek, who helped research the piece.
Huneck, who battled depression and committed suicide in 2010, was most well-known for his wooden dog carvings but did several wood carvings that became known as his “Corporate Structure” series.
Caragol and Antalek noted the series — which also includes tables, chairs and clocks — has themes of rebellion against the corporate world.
The cabinet in the Moxie store has 42 hand-carved men in blue suits and one more on top turning his back to the others. Caragol described the piece as attention-getting yet polarizing for customers at her store.
“They really like it, and they’re attracted to it, or they think it’s really creepy,” she said.
After more research, the store thinks Olivia Skye Johnson, an heir to the Johnson & Johnson company, bought the cabinet from what used to be a Huneck gallery in Breckenridge between 2002 and 2006. The Stagecoach couple inherited the cabinet when they purchased Johnson’s Stagecoach home in 2006.
The cabinet was appraised at $20,000, and Moxie has it listed at $18,508. Knowing that she is looking for a unique buyer, Caragol is trying to publicize the cabinet’s existence and have it listed on websites, including eBay.
“We can’t find any cabinet for sale that comes from his Corporate Structure period,” Antalek said.