The Man with the Yellow Briefcase - CODAworx

The Man with the Yellow Briefcase

Submitted by Michael K Speaker

Client: Private Art Collector

Location: Cambridge, MA, United States

Completion date: 2009

Artwork budget: $32,500

Project Team


Michael K Speaker


Private Art Collector


This is my signature style where I tile over a structure choosing woods for their color. No stain or paint is used. Six legged figure that also is a functional seven drawer bureau. 72″ High x 24″ Wide x 18″ Deep. Traditional joinery was used including high ebony rails for the drawers which is an homage to Architects Greene and Greene. Woods chosen for their color and grain pattern: skin – hornbeam; hair – koa; shirt – vera; shoes – ebony; carcas – maple and ebony trim; briefcase – satinwood and ebony handle and trim.


I try to make work that the viewer would not be able to tell when it was made. Historical debts include: seventh century BC Assyrian art that has bas relief - low, giving away to full three dimensional sculpture as it goes up. I stole the concept of the feet going sideways from the Gilgamesh figure also from that time and place. Combining those historical with more contemporary influences, I added contemporary business attire, a combover for levity, and heavyset features so I am able to get six legs under the figure.


I collaborated with the collector and my son: An email inquiry about a previous piece started the collaboration with the collector. When I informed her it was sold and in the collection of someone she knew, I told her that my sculpting skills and computer skills had improved and that I could make a piece that was"better than S......m's". She replied BTS and that became the real name of the piece and sealed the deal. Meanwhile my son, after graduating from St John's College in Santa Fe, NM, said "I want to learn all your wily tricks". He had a hand in BTS and a bronze sculpture I was working on at the same time. Six years later has graduated from the five year program in industrial design and is employed as the industrial designer where they are drawing and printing in three dimensions using the computer. Clients range from the medical community, NASA, and DOD. Now I consult with him and he is getting me up to speed in laser scanning and three D printing and scaling up my pieces this new and improved way. The student became the teacher and we are both enjoying the process.

Additional Information

BTS has never been shown in a gallery or museum. The collector said "it was better than I expected and worth the wait".