David Copperfield (illusionist)

David Copperfield (born David Seth Kotkin; September 16, 1956) is a magician and illusionist best known for his combination of illusions and storytelling.


Born in Metuchen, New Jersey as David Seth Kotkin to parents, Hyman and Rebecca. Copperfield's New York-born father Hyman Kotkin owned and operated a men's haberdashery in Metuchen, called Korby's. Hyman Kotkin was the son of Russian immigrants and Rebecca Kotkin was born in Jerusalem. Copperfield began practicing magic at the age of twelve, and became the youngest person ever admitted to the Society of American Magicians. By age 16, he was teaching a course in magic at New York University. At age 18, he enrolled at Fordham University, and was cast in the lead role of the Chicago-based musical The Magic Man (directed by Holland, MI's John Tammi) three weeks into his freshman year, adopting his new stage name "David Copperfield" from the Charles Dickens book of the same name. At age 19, he was headlining at the Pagoda Hotel in Honolulu, Hawaii.

David Copperfield played the character of Ken the magician in the 1980 horror film Terror Train. He also made an uncredited appearance in the 1994 film Prêt-à-Porter. Most of his media appearances have been through television specials and guest spots on television programs. His illusions have included making the Statue of Liberty disappear, flying, levitating over the Grand Canyon, and walking through the Great Wall of China.

In 1982, Copperfield founded Project Magic, a rehabilitation program to help disabled patients regain lost or damaged dexterity skills by using sleight-of-hand magic as a method of physical therapy. The program has been accredited by the American Occupational Therapy Association, and is in use in over 1100 hospitals throughout 30 countries worldwide.

Copperfield met supermodel Claudia Schiffer in 1993 at a Berlin celebrity gala when he brought her on stage to participate in a mind reading act. They were engaged three months later, but the couple parted ways in the fall of 1999 never having set a wedding date. Copperfield has also been romantically linked to models, Ambre Frisque and Terry Holladay.

David Copperfield at one time was ready to open a theme restaurant called "Magic Underground." There were to be two locations, one in New York City and one in Walt Disney World (built in the shape of a Hidden Mickey). These locations would allow "D.A.V.I.D" (Digital Audio-Video Interface Device) to remotely interact with the guests in the restaurant. It was basically a high tech videophone system. Other things such as the very table you were sitting at might "Float" around the room and even the waiters were to be involved performing magic as they brought your order to you. Eventually the New York project ran into trouble and the Walt Disney World location was aborted.

In 1996, Copperfield joined forces with Dean Koontz, Joyce Carol Oates, Ray Bradbury and others for “David Copperfield’s Tales of the Impossible,” an anthology of original fiction set in the world of magic and illusion. A second volume was later published in 1997, called “David Copperfield's Beyond Imagination.”

Forbes Magazine reported that Copperfield earned $57 million in 2003, making him the tenth highest paid celebrity in the world. It also estimated that he made $57 million in 2004 (35th) and $57 million in 2005 (41st) in merchandise and tour revenue. Copperfield performs over 500 shows per year throughout the world.

Copperfield has a collection of magic and conjuring memorabilia and historical artifacts that he stores in a warehouse in Las Vegas. He calls the collection the International Museum and Library of the Conjuring Arts. It is not open to the public.

Personal life

"Fountain of Youth"

David Copperfield said in August 2006 that he has found the "Fountain of Youth" in the southern Bahamas, amid a cluster of four tiny islands called Musha Cay, which he had purchased on July 14 that year. He claims that the water brings dead leaves back to life, and brings near dead insects back to life. He said he has hired biologists and geologists to examine its potential effect on humans.

FBI investigation

In 2007 and continuing into 2008, Copperfield was under investigation by a Seattle federal grand jury on allegations of rape, assault and attempting to bribe a witness. Copperfield’s accuser, a 21-year-old Seattle woman, alleged that she was raped and assaulted by Copperfield whilst alone with him on his private island in the Bahamas in late July, 2007. She also alleged that Copperfield threatened her, telling her she'd better keep quiet. Copperfield denied all allegations of misconduct.

The woman took photographs of the alleged crime scene with her cell phone and did not bathe so as to retain DNA evidence. Upon her return to Seattle, she went directly to a hospital and a "rape kit" was assembled. Some of her clothing was taken as evidence. FBI agents arranged a sting operation in which the woman met Copperfield and he allegedly offered her a US$2 million bribe, if she would drop her rape charge against him. The FBI then raided Copperfield's warehouse, seizing $2M in cash. reported that other women have claimed that Copperfield uses his shows to target attractive women.


In November 2007, promoters sued Copperfield for nearly $2.2 million, after he pulled out of 48 shows in the face of rape claims. Filed November 6 in Los Angeles County Superior Court, the breach of contract suit names Copperfield, his company and one of his attorneys. The new lawsuit claims Copperfield backed out of a deal involving 10 performances in the United Arab Emirates and 38 shows in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore this autumn because he did not want to face questioning by reporters. An attorney for Copperfield said last month that the shows were cancelled after Asian tour operators defaulted on their contracts.

The lawsuit was filed by California-based Viva Art International Ltd. and Maz Concerts Inc. of Ontario. They claim they gave Copperfield approximately $2.2 million to cover his costs before he cancelled the shows.


In April 2006, Copperfield and two female assistants were robbed at gunpoint after a performance in West Palm Beach, Florida. His assistants gave the robbers their money, passports, and a cell phone. However, according to his police statement, Copperfield did not hand over anything, claiming that he used sleight-of-hand to hide his possessions. One of Copperfield's assistants wrote down most of the license plate number, and the suspects were later arrested, tried and sentenced.

Achievements and awards

  • David Copperfield was nominated 5 times for Emmy Awards and has won once.
  • Copperfield received a Living Legend Award from the Library of Congress.
  • Copperfield is the first living magician to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
  • Copperfield was knighted by the French Government

Television specials


See also


External links

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