The Untold Truth Of David Copperfield

World-famous magician David Copperfield was born David Seth Kotkin. A native of Metuchen, New Jersey, David began performing self-taught magic tricks for his friends and family as a young child. By the age of 10, he started taking his hobby very seriously, and began calling himself "Davino the Boy Magician."

As reported by Totally History, David applied to and was accepted into the Society of American Magicians when he was only 12 years old. Although he was initially described as a shy and introverted child, David used magic tricks to entertain and make connections with others.

Performing magic tricks was not young David Kotkin's only talent. He was also a gifted actor, dancer, and singer. When he was 18 years old, David was cast as the lead in a Chicago musical titled, "The Music Man." Upon landing the role, he began using the stage name David Copperfield, which he chose from the Charles Dickens novel of the same name.

Totally History reports David Copperfield made his television debut in 1977 when he was a guest on a special titled, "The Magic of ABC." The following year, he was offered his own series of television specials titled, "The Magic of David Copperfield."

Throughout his career, David Copperfield has earned 21 Emmy awards and was the first magician to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. As reported by Jon Finch, Copperfield's net worth is estimated to be $1.2 billion, making him the wealthiest, and highest paid, magician in the world.

David Copperfield holds 11 Guinness World Records

According to Forbes, David Copperfield currently holds 11 Guinness World Records, including the most tickets sold worldwide by a solo entertainer, the highest earnings for a magician for the noted year, the most expensive poster depicting magic sold at auction, the largest magic work archive, the highest career earnings as a magician, the largest illusion ever staged, and the most magic shows performed in a year.

As reported by Guinness World Records, Copperfield was awarded the record for most tickets sold worldwide by a solo entertainer in 2004 after selling approximately 39,690,000 show tickets between 1984 and 2004. The same year he was awarded the record for the highest career earnings as a magician, as he earned a net sum of $661.5 million between 1984 and 2004.

In May 2000, David Copperfield became the owner of the most expensive poster depicting magic sold at auction with his purchase of a $55,000 1914 lithograph, depicting Harry Houdini's Water Torture Cell escape.

Guinness World Records reports David Copperfield was awarded with the record for the most magic shows performed in a year in 1994 when he performed 642 shows in seven countries. However, he was not awarded with the record for the highest annual earnings within a year until 2018, for earning $62 million between July 2017 and July 2018.

In 1983, Copperfield was awarded for the largest illusion ever staged, for his vanishing Statue of Liberty illusion, which he performed on a CBS television special.

David Copperfield owns the largest magic archive in the world

In 2004, David Copperfield was awarded the Guinness World Record for owning the largest magic work archive in the world. The collection, which included an estimated 61,673 items (in 2004), is housed in the magician's International Museum and Library of Conjuring Arts.

As reported by Forbes, David Copperfield owns half of Harry Houdini's personal library as well as the largest collection of Houdini's other memorabilia — including the only known recording of the legendary magician's voice. Copperfield also owns Harry Houdini's Mirror Cuff Escape Award, which he was awarded by London's Daily Mirror newspaper in 1904, one of Houdini's straight jackets, the famous Iron Maiden Challenge device, several pairs of Houdini's handcuffs, and one of his sets of lock picks.

David Copperfield's magic work archive also includes an antique levitation device, which was built by an unknown French artist, an intricate monkey automaton, which was created by Phalabois, and several complex automatons and mystery clocks created by Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin.

Forbes reports David Copperfield also owns Dante The Magician's device that he used to create the illusion that women were being sawed in half.

Copperfield's massive collection also includes ventriloquist Edgar Bergen's Charlie McCarthy puppet, which starred in "The Chase and Sanborn Hour" variety program from the 1930s to the 1950s, two of the original Howdy Doody marionettes, and four of Paul Winchell's puppets — including Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead Smiff.

David Copperfield's collection also includes nearly 62,000 items used throughout his own career.

David Copperfield claims he found the Fountain of Youth on his private island

So what does the world's wealthiest magician do with all that money? Well, in 2006, David Copperfield purchased his own private island — Musha Cay island in the southern Bahamas — for $50 million. As reported by Luxatic, Copperfield spent an additional $40 million to renovate the inland's existing structures, build several homes, and add additional recreational facilities. Once the initial renovation was complete, Copperfield purchased 10 other islands surrounding Musha Cay, further ensuring the privacy of his beloved Caribbean retreat. 

According to Venue Report, Copperfield Bay owns several resorts that can be rented by the public (well, those members of the public who are very wealthy) for weddings, corporate events, wellness retreats, and other celebrations. In addition to accommodations and catering services, the island has "tropical paths" for jogging, hiking, and walking, a freeform swimming pool, and more decadent perks.

However, one thing remains off-limits to David Copperfield's guests: The Fountain of Youth. As reported by Today, Copperfield discussed his discovery of the mythical spring during a 2006 interview with Reuters.

During the phone interview, Copperfield said, "I've discovered a true phenomenon. "You can take dead leaves, they come in contact with the water, they become full of life again. ... Bugs or insects that are near death, come in contact with the water, they'll fly away. It's an amazing thing, very, very exciting."

During the interview, Copperfield said he hired biologists and geologists to study the properties of the spring. However, he never revealed their findings.

David Copperfield was forced to reveal the secret of one of his illusions after being sued

In 2013, Gavin Cox, a British citizen, traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada, to celebrate his birthday. During the trip, Gavin attended David Copperfield's show at the MGM Grand, where he was randomly selected to participate in one of the illusions — specifically, the disappearance and reappearance of 13 audience members.

As reported by the Independent, the audience participants did not actually vanish, of course. Instead, they were led backstage, through a series of "secret passageways," to another location — where they were expected to remain until they would later reappear during the show's finale.

Gavin Cox's attorneys said the audience participants were forced to run through the dark passages, which were littered with "construction dust." Gavin said the dangerous conditions contributed to a fall, which left him with both a traumatic brain injury and more than $400,000 in medical bills.

NPR reports Gavin Cox said that he "was having a good time" until he fell. Although he remembers "he fell hard on his right side," he claims he does not remember getting up off the floor or completing the illusion.

As reported by Las Vegas Review-Journal, three other women, who participated in the vanish audience member illusion, testified that they also suffered injuries in the dark passageways.

A jury ultimately determined David Copperfield was not liable for Gavin Cox's injuries. However, the magician was dismayed that so many details about the "Lucky #13" illusion were revealed during the trial.

Two women accused David Copperfield of sexual assault

In 2007, Lacey L. Carroll accused David Copperfield of sexually assaulting her while she was a guest on his private island. As reported by ABC News, Carroll said Copperfield met her at one of his shows and asked her to later join him at his private island getaway. 

ABC News reports Carroll's accusation was called into question when she accused another man of sexually assaulting her in 2009, and surveillance footage recovered during the investigation of that case revealed that she allegedly lied about the details of her interactions with the man.

In 2018, Brittney Lewis said David Copperfield sexually assaulted her in 1988 when she was 17 years old. As reported by People, Lewis said the assault happened after one of Copperfield's shows.

In her interview with People, Lewis said she "saw Copperfield pour something into her drink while the two were at a bar." Although she questioned him about what he put in her drink, she reportedly "blacked out" after taking "a few sips."

Lewis told People she remembers her "clothes being taken off," and David Copperfield "kissing [her] face." However, she "completely blacked out," in the midst of the alleged assault.

The following morning, Lewis asked Copperfield what happened and he reportedly told her "nothing happened" because she "was underage." He then reportedly forced her to sign a statement saying she was "okay" before she left to return home.

David Copperfield was never charged or convicted in either case and has vehemently denied the allegations.

David Copperfield was inspired by classic Hollywood performers

Even the most casual viewer of David Copperfield can see — legal issues notwithstanding — that above all else, that he's a performer and entertainer. He and his jazz-handed stage poses go well above and beyond in the "pageantry and spectacle" category, which is doubtlessly a big reason why he stands out from his magical peers. And if you ever wondered where he gets his sense of showmanship, you have only to look at classic Hollywood cinema.

As Copperfield said in an interview with Forbes, his greatest career influences weren't death-defying stunt magicians like Houdini, but old-timey dancers, actors, singers, and directors. Fred Astaire (pictured above with Ginger Rogers), Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Orson Welles, even Alfred Hitchcock — these are just some of the figures from whom Copperfield drew inspiration. As he said, "I was inspired to bring storytelling to magic, romance, choreography — all the elements of film and theater that I loved." 

Copperfield's focus on storytelling is pretty clear. Take his "Great Wall of China" illusion (viewable on YouTube). There's a beginning and set-up (David stands on one side of the wall), a complication in the middle (the audience waits in anticipation and wonders whether the trick will even work), and an end where tension gets resolved (David appears on the other side of the wall). Such narrative structuring creates far greater performances than standalone stage tricks, such as tugging rabbits out of hats.

David Copperfield is the target of a lot of spoofs

Naturally, a performer as focused on jazz and pizzazz (and arched eyebrows) as Copperfield begs to be impersonated. And lo and behold, there are a decent amount of Copperfield spoofs and parodies lurking around online, all of which are amazingly stupid and worthy of praise.

Top of the list is a Belgian performer who goes by the Copperfield-inspired name "Daniel Chesterfield." As we can see on YouTube, Chesterfield has performed such feats as standing still on an escalator in a shopping mall while pointing his hands upwards. Comedian and late-night talk show host Conan O'Brien did a similar gag back in the day (also available on YouTube). In his video, a heavily sideburned Copperfield impersonator performs such awe-inspiring illusions as covering a bowling ball return with a little red cloth as a ball comes through.

Before we go thinking that Copperfield would find such good-natured ribbing offensive, it should be noted that the magician extraordinaire appears to have an excellent sense of humor about himself and others. His "banana bandana" comedy sketch, where he dresses like Mr. Rogers and demonstrates exactly how good he is at audience interaction, is a legitimately funny piece of physical stand-up (viewable on YouTube).

Also, we can't be sure, but we'd bet that comedian Will Arnett's character Gob (pronounced "Job," like the Bible guy) from "Arrested Development" was inspired by Copperfield's whole persona. Gob's "illusions," though, only succeed at failing. 

David Copperfield's Grandpa's Aces trick has extensive tutorials online

Copperfield has done more than a couple of on-camera tutorials. One time, for instance, he showed an interviewer for the Wall Street Journal how to do an impossibly balanced dollar bill trick. The trick, as he showed, involved secretly inserting a palmed quarter inside a folded bill to keep the bill balanced, as seen on YouTube. He also did a career retrospective with GQ (also on YouTube) where he didn't necessarily divulge the secrets of every single illusion, but where he discusses his tactics behind each illusion's construction, including the business side of things. For his Great Wall of China illusion, for example, he discusses how he had to collaborate with the Chinese government and television networks.

One of Copperfield's tricks, dubbed "Grandpa's Aces," has been scrutinized, analyzed, and replicated by amateur magicians quite a lot. When Copperfield performed the illusion, he described how it was taught to him by his grandfather before he became famous, via YouTube. The illusion is a multi-step trick that uses a seemingly normal deck of cards. Copperfield somehow flips the aces out of the deck, makes them vanish, and reappear in a specific (and seemingly impossible) sequence.

Loads of folks have posted how-to videos for this particular illusions, with solutions such as using double-sided tape on the back of cards (on YouTube). Others have just recorded themselves reproducing the trick (also on YouTube). For aspiring magicians without a Copperfield-sized budget, it makes sense to practice like this.

David Copperfield headlines nightly in Las Vegas

Copperfield may have receded somewhat from the magic-dusted limelight of late, but that doesn't mean he's vanished along with the Statue of Liberty. Those looking to behold the maestro of magic can just buy a ticket to see him at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, provided you feel like dropping between $70 to $220 per person for a two-hour "intimate evening of grand illusion," as David Copperfield's website puts it. Via the MGM Grand Website, simply stroll the casino floor and you'll find Copperfield in his eponymous David Copperfield Theater (set aside just for him, apparently) after some left turns and a bit more walking. 

Copperfield puts on a shocking number of shows at the MGM Grand. He performs every single day, seven days a week, with the occasional cluster of days off between months, as seen on the MGM Grand Booking Site. Weekday shows run at 7:00 pm and 9:30 pm, with a short break in between them, and he performs three shows a day on Saturday. Bear in mind that Copperfield is currently 65 years old. We suppose his $17.5 million, 31,000-square-foot Las Vegas home isn't going to pay for itself (figures via Forbes). His house, it should be noted, contains a wine cellar, a full-service spa, and a nightclub with a bar and dance floor, among other amenities. 

Alternatively, as mentioned earlier, fans can book entire private beach houses on Copperfield's island, Musha Cay, through the Musha Cay website

Copperfield's private life

Despite his rigorous performance schedule, David Copperfield has somehow managed to make time for a personal life — and enjoyed a high-profile relationship that made him often pop up in the tabloids during the 1990s. According to E News, Copperfield was involved with German model Claudia Schiffer at the height of her supermodel-era fame. The couple reportedly dated for six years and were often photographed together on the red carpet. Despite the public's fascination with the pair, it would seem that romance is no longer at the forefront of Copperfield's mind. Referring to the relationship with Schiffer, Copperfield told E "Oh, that was a long time ago. Now I'm engaged and in a committed relationship with Chloe in my mind and my heart." 

The Chloe he's referring to is French former model Chloe Gosselin, with whom he shares a daughter named Sky (Copperfield has two older children from previous relationships). The couple became engaged in 2014 and Gosselin is now a shoe designer, per Marie Claire. At the time of this article's publication, it's difficult to discern whether the pair ever tied the know but based on recent reports, they appear to be still very much together.