Business Owner Loves His Side Hustle


Visitors to Randy Markel’s expansive West County home will not find a Renoir or a Monet.

However, they will find Leroy Neiman, David O’Keefe, and Jamie Hayes.

A 6-foot tall grizzly bear (stuffed) stands in front of a large window to scare interlopers, and a suit of armor holds court in the foyer.

On a coffee table in the great room sits a huge sculpture of a stagecoach and horse team.

The former owner of Chuck’s Boots, Markel owns 590 The Fan.  This spring, he will open the biggest little league facility in the Midwest at the Lake of the Ozarks. He is part owner of Champions Village, a little league training facility in Fenton, Mo, and Kirkwood Brew Haus.

His art is as diverse as his business interests.

 “I started in the art business in the early 1980s when I lived in Dallas,” he said. “I went to this guy’s house who had advertised some piece of art that sounded interesting, and he was also selling a Leroy Neiman piece that I fell in love with.

“I paid $2,000 for it and five years later, I sold it for $3000,” he said, “and I thought that was the greatest thing.

“Buy a piece of art, hang it on the wall, enjoy it, then sell it a few years later, make a profit, and that’s how I started,” he said.

Markel began buying all the Neimans that he liked, which turned him on to several other artists like David O’Keefe and Jamie Hayes.

“I’ve met most of them,” he said, stopping in front of a colorful fleur de lis painting with a Mardi Gras theme done by Hayes.

Walking through the house, he points out O’Keefe’s painting, “The Godfather” with caricatures of the main characters.

“We were walking at night in Sarasota, Fla., and he saw this painting in the back,” Randy’s wife, Stacy, said.

“I’m a Godfather fan and there it was,” Markel said. “I knew I had to have that piece, so I went back the next day and bought it.”

“I said, ‘David, you have to do ‘’Animal House,’ so he did and it’s one of his premium pieces.”

Another O’Keefe, “Green Jacket,” features Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus putting the famous Masters green jacket on Bill Murray surrounded by celebrities including Jimmy Connors, John Belushi, and Jimmy Conner.

“There’s Cheech or Chong, “Markel said pointing at the painting. “I don’t know which!”

He has three paintings by Eyvind Earle hanging in the hallway, but those are not Stacy’s favorite.

“She calls them poster art,” Markel said.

Moving through the great room and dining room, he points out some works by Luidmila Kondokova, one of which is a streetscape depicting a skyline with the four seasons blending on after the other.

“I visited Paris when I was in college, and it is the most beautiful city I’ve ever seen,” he said, “and she does beautiful Paris streetscapes.”

In the family room downstairs sits Stacy’s favorite – a three-dimensional piece featuring the half-completed new Busch Stadium and the half-demolished old Busch Stadium by William Lobdell.

“When the Cardinals were in the playoffs in 2004, they couldn’t complete the new stadium because of the World Series,” Markel said. “So Lobdell went out and gathered little screws and pieces of concrete to incorporate into this piece.”

Besides paintings, Markel collects any unique thing he can find including some old drive-in speakers, a “Big Boy” statue, and numerous sports memorabilia, most of them autographed.

On the wall hangs a poster of the 1992 Olympic Dream Team signed by the members including Patrick Ewing, Michael Jordan, and Larry Bird.

He was hard-pressed to name his favorites, but he said that Neiman was his favorite artist and his     diptych, “Polo Lounge,” was one of his top three, the others being “Animal House” and “The Godfather.”

Shopping with her husband is an experience, Stacy said.

“We are definitely opposite shoppers,” she said. “I go for the smaller accessory items that you can tuck in beside a lamp, and he goes for the largest, most dramatic thing he sees in the room.

“We shop from morning till night when we’re on vacation,” she said.

“Antique shops, resale shops, pawn shops,” she said, “but after a while, you start running out of room.”

Given the size of the Markel manse, that might take a while.

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