News Article

Magical Mystery Furor

The magician sues the author of ''All the Secrets of Magic Revealed''

Granted, a magician never reveals his tricks. But does that mean someone else can't do it for him?

On July 11, grand illusionist and Claudia Schiffer fiance David Copperfield (under his real name, David Kotkin) filed a $5 million suit against Herbert L. Becker, author of the forthcoming All the Secrets of Magic Revealed and Becker's publisher, Lifetime Books. The suit alleges, among other things, that after signing one of Copperfield's infamous secrecy agreements, Becker went ahead and revealed the magician's most mind-boggling tricks, including ''The Flying Illusion,'' in which Copperfield makes like Peter Pan; walking through the Great Wall of China; and making a jet airplane and the Statue of Liberty disappear. According to Copperfield's attorney, Albert Rettig, ''David Copperfield has no comment since the complaint is pending, however...a judge has issued a temporary restraining order on the book and a hearing is set for July 28.''

All of which has the book's author — a former professional magician — mystified. Becker says he ''misappropriated'' nothing, unlocking the secrets of Copperfield's illusions all by himself: ''Any magician can look at a trick and figure out six different ways of doing it, which is what I did.'' Copperfield, Becker claims, merely provided him with biographical information: ''We never talked about tricks, other than him telling me about the first trick he ever learned.... He was wonderful, very accommodating. In fact, every time I thought I was done, he'd fax me more information.''

Meanwhile, Becker's publisher (and fellow defendant) Donald Lessne feels like a guy being sawed in half: ''Becker says he never signed the confidentiality agreement.... The other side is saying, 'Why didn't you check this author out to make sure he was credible?' I don't know why. I just didn't.'' Lessne's best hope is that the suit will just magically disappear.

Originally posted Aug 05, 1994 Published in issue #234 Aug 05, 1994 Order article reprints