Manuel Marin (sculptor)

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Manuel Fernandez (1942–2007), otherwise known as Manuel Marin, was an artist and a convicted art forger. After working in the art world for 30 years, he admitted to making and selling millions of dollars of forgeries, mainly copies of works by the American sculptor Alexander Calder. Fernandez and his wife, Monica Savignon, served prison sentences for their crimes.


Fernandez was born in 1942 in Cieza, Murcia, Spain. Fernandez grew up in Spain, and as a teenager, he trained as a bull fighter.[1]

In his twenties, he moved to London and, then, New York where he made and sold art.[1]   

He later settled and continued working in Tenafly, New Jersey with his wife and children.[2] He also owned a home and spent time in Malaga, Spain.[3] Artnet’s price database shows that since 2007, 417 of his sculptures have come up for sale at auction, selling for thousands of dollars.[4]

Manuel Fernandez died in 2007.[1][5]


Following an FBI investigation, a federal grand jury indicted Manuel Fernandez and Monica Savignon on fraud and conspiracy charges in 1997.[6][7] At that time, the couple had been producing and selling forged artworks for over a decade.[2]   

The court reported that they had sold over two million dollars of these forged artworks. Fernandez created the works while Savignon acted as art dealer, consigning the works to auction houses and selling them to collectors.[3][8] Most notably, Fernandez and Savignon sold more than $1.5 million worth of counterfeit Alexander Calder works,[9] often mobiles or standing mobiles, some of which Fernandez signed with CA to mimic Calder’s signature.[2] The couple also made fake copies of works by the artist Romare Bearden.[3]

Their crime was far-reaching; they sold these forged artworks in United States, Spain, England and France. The couple even convinced Sotheby’s, the auction house, to sell a fake Calder work by providing false provenance history for the sculpture.[7]

Richard Vitrano, another convicted art conman,[10] testified at his April 2000 hearing that "Mr. Marin was probably the most prolific art counterfeiter in the New York City area in the '80s." Vitrano claimed that Marin's crimes went beyond those addressed in the aforementioned case. Vitrano said from Marin "we bought a [Guy Pène] Du Bois, Thomas Hart Benton, a William Aiken Walker, a Warhol, we bought a [Pierre] Lesieur. We bought a Hans Hoffman, which was the larger one. We bought a [A.F.] Tait. We bought a Henry Farney."[11]

In order to protect their identities, the couple operated under different aliases. As mentioned above, Manuel Fernandez usually sold art under the pseudonym Manuel (Manny) Marin, but court records document that he also used the names Giuseppe Marin, Manuel Marcel, and Manuel Cisneros. Monica Savignon went by Franchesca Agnelli, Monica Marcell, Monica Rabassa, Monica Fernandez, Monica Marin, and Monica Cisneros.[12]

In 2000, Manuel Fernandez and Monica Savignon were convicted in federal court on fraud and conspiracy charges. Fernandez and Savignon were sentenced to the maximum prison time for their crimes, 33 months. The court also ordered that the couple pay $2,695,00 in restitution. In their sentencing, Fernandez and Savignon agreed that they would not "in any way, shape or form endeavor to create, consign, transfer or sell any art work made in the likeness of a known work or artist."[3]


  1. ^ a b c "Manuel Marin - Artist Biography for Manuel Marin". Retrieved 2018-12-20.
  2. ^ a b c Kolker, Robert (30 August 1999). "North Jersey's daring Calder forgers cop a plea–but won't be going mobile". New York Magazine.
  3. ^ a b c d USA v. Savignon, et al, Sentencing (Southern District of New York, 2000).
  4. ^ "Manuel Marin auction results". Artnet Price Databse. Retrieved 13 December 2018.
  5. ^ "Manuel Marin | Art Auction Results". Retrieved 2018-12-20.
  6. ^ "case summary 1:97-cr-00472-TPG All Defendants USA v. Savignon, et al". Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  7. ^ a b Barron, James (1997-11-07). "U.S. Accuses Two of Selling Counterfeit Calder Artworks". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-12-20.
  8. ^ "Fakes and forgeries cover". The Newtown Bee. Retrieved 2018-12-20.
  9. ^ "When is a Rembrandt Not a Rembrandt?: Forgeries at Fordham". Art in America. Retrieved 2018-12-20.
  10. ^ (PDF) Retrieved 2018-12-20. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. ^ "The Problem with Perenyi Meets the Old William Aiken Walker Scandal - Art Antiques Design". Retrieved 2018-12-20.
  12. ^ Alias, page for USA v. Savignon, et al, (Southern District of New York, 2000), retrieved on 11 December 2018