The $800 million magician takes Jen Yamato on a tour of his Vegas lair, regaling her with tales of duping robbers and doing the unspeakable. “>
In the five decades that David Copperfield has been practicing magic, theres one trick he admits he maybe shouldnt have pulled. It was ten years ago in West Palm Beach, Florida, when the worlds most famous illusionist performed some close-up magic on four unwitting armed robbers demanding his wallet and passport.
When you have a gun pointed at your face, its interesting, Copperfield tells me as we sit inside his famed Las Vegas headquarters, just off the Strip and down the road from his nightly residency at the MGM Grand. Instinct and stupidity, and instinct and stupidity. They got caught an hour later. But thats true. Three girls and meand four guys each with guns.
I showed my pockets empty and they werent empty, he explains modestly, and solemnly, with no trace of the boisterous bravado he projects onstage, or the melodramatic flair the world saw when he survived Niagara Falls and made landmarks disappear on live television. But it was stupid! Because if they said, Let me check
Copperfield, now 59, was a kid prodigy from New Jersey who built an empire from his own unique brand of show-stopping spectacle; the kind of mass entertainment magic that had families glued to their TV sets in the 80s and sent fans flocking from around the globe in the decades since. Hes got 11 Guinness World Records and 38 Emmy nominations to his name, grossed over $4 billion in his career, and last year, by his count, performed over 640 shows.
But years ago Copperfield started quietly putting his particular set of skills to use elsewhere, and not just when criminals came calling. In the subtlestappearingact of his career, the biggest magic superstar of the last half-century came back around to his other first love, the movies, applying his expertise as a consultant on everything from Christopher NolansThe Prestige to Paranormal Activity to 2013s hit Now You See Me.
The beginnings of magic are the beginnings of my world, because of cinema and Georges Mlis, Copperfield says as he guides me into his private office hidden behind a storefront replica of the menswear shop his parents, Rebecca and Hyman Kotkin, ran in Metuchen, New Jersey. To enter, one must open a secret door in a faux changing room a la The Man from U.N.C.L.E.A lot of really great artists started out with their imaginations being captured by magic. It makes people dream in a certain way. Theres a power that it has.