Marco Perego-Saldana is an Italian artist and former soccer player. He is married to American actress and dancer Zoe Saldana. The son of a waiter father and a stay-at-home mother, Perego came from a humble background. He was deeply interested in art as a child but his first love, soccer, became his primary concern. He subsequently played professional soccer until he was 21 years old before suffering a leg injury. He was forced to quit soccer and relocated to New York to pursue his dream of becoming an artist. He took up odd jobs, such as being a busboy, waiter, and soccer teacher, to support himself. His big break into the world of art came through a friendly connection, to who he made his first painting sale. In time, Perego has become an internationally renowned artist whose paintings have sold for about $30,000 a piece. He has painted the background for Dolce and Gabbana’s 2008 campaign ‘Where the Fashion Meets Art’.
In the fall of 2002, Marco Perego abandoned all soccer aspirations and moved to New York City in the hope of becoming an artist. He supported himself in the initial months by doing odd jobs. He was a busboy, a waiter, and even a soccer teacher and lived at Spanish Harlem and later at 104th Street.
He sold his first painting to Gilda Moratti, who hails from the famous Moratti family of New York. The sister of a friend, she visited him one day to see his art. He asked her for her honest opinion and even told her that if she did not like his work he was going to try something else as a profession. In the end, she did buy one of his paintings. In the subsequent years, he gradually built up his career. His paintings began to sell for $15,000 to $30,000 per piece after he became successful.
According to art-critic and writer Glenn O’Brien, Perego’s work is in the ancient Mediterranean tradition. He remains loyal to his old Hellenistic roots. In 2007, he was featured on the cover of ‘The Guardian’ with his sculpture ‘The Only Good Rockstar Is a Dead Rockstar’, which seems to have foreshadowed the death of British singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse.
In 2012, Perego exhibited his art at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, at the Museo Tuscolano in Rome, at Art Basel Miami among other notable art fairs, and at Zurich’s Galerie Gmurzynska. Three years later, he released ‘Burn to Shine’, a 25-minute short film comprised of over 2,500 drawings.
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Marco Perego was born on March 1, 1979, in Salò, Italy in a blue-collar family. His father was a waiter while his mother was a homemaker. As a child Perego loved art but his main interest was soccer. He played the sport throughout his adolescence and at 17, was included in Venice’s professional soccer team. However, he suffered a leg injury when he was 21 years old that cut his soccer career short. Initially, he left Italy and moved to Brazil so he could recuperate and return to the game one day but he eventually gave up and relocated to New York City, wanting to be an artist.
In March 2013, Perego began dating American actress and dancer Zoe Saldana. Three months later, in June, they were married in a secret ceremony in London. Both of them are progressive and after marriage, they went against certain cultural norms. Marco became Marco Perego-Saldana and Zoe became Zoe Saldana-Perego. They have three sons together. Twins Bowie Ezio Perego-Saldana and Cy Aridio Perego-Saldana were born on November 27, 2014, while their younger brother, Zen Perego-Saldana, was born in February 2017. Marco and Zoe are raising their children to be bilingual as they want them to be fluent in both Spanish and English.
He received the nickname ‘The Pirate’ allegedly because of his swarthy looks and long bleached locks.