David Copperfield is the first billionaire-magician in history. He’s as good at making money as he is at making things disappear! He is the most commercially successful magician of all time. Over the last three decades, he has managed to amass an astounding $1 billion personal net worth. Though his magic shows are the most profitable of all time, impressively, David Copperfield’s billion dollar net worth doesn’t come from illusions alone. Thanks to incredibly shrewd investments and acquisitions, David has managed to build an incredibly valuable financial empire that includes real estate, restaurants, merchandise and even magic memorabilia! Before we get into that magic memorabilia collection, which is quite impressive, let’s take a look at other facets of David Copperfield’s career, investments, and fortune.
David Copperfield is an exciting performer who works the stage and his magic to the delight of audiences. His Las Vegas shows and world tours have sold more than 40 million tickets and grossed more than $4 billion in revenue. He has sold more tickets than any other solo performer in history, earning him one of his 11 Guinness World Records. To put that in perspective, David Copperfield, a magician, has sold more tickets than Madonna, Justin Bieber, Elvis Presley, and even Michael Jackson. His 1996 show, Dreams and Nightmares, still holds the record for the most Broadway tickets sold in a week. Ultimately, the stage production grossed more than $6 million during its five-week run.
Copperfield’s MGM Grand Hotel & Casino show has run uninterrupted for 13 years. There are as many as three shows each day, seven days a week, 42 weeks a year, in a theatre dedicated to David himself. Ticket sales gross roughly $50 million each year and that doesn’t include merchandising, which, by the way, Copperfield completely controls.
Even without magic, David Copperfield would be a very wealthy man from his real estate holdings, alone. In Las Vegas, Copperfield lives in a penthouse provided to him by the MGM. He also has a mansion just off the strip. Outside of Vegas, David owns a four-story penthouse in New York City. The jewel of his real estate portfolio can be found in the Bahamas, where David owns 11 absolutely amazing private islands. Copperfield named his archipelago the Islands of Copperfield Bay. He began buying them in the early 2000s, after establishing his interest in the largest and most developed of the islands – Musha Cay. This 150-acre island set Copperfield back $55 million in 2006. The battle to buy the land lasted four years. Over the next decade, Copperfield continued to buy up the 10 neighboring islands, then sunk $40 million and five years into renovations to build his own version of fantasy island complete with a staff of 30, a vanishing drive-in movie theater on the beach, and furniture flown in from all over the world – including Harry Houdini’s pool table. The property rents out for $37,500 per night to moguls like Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, and Sergey Brin. All told, the 11 islands comprise 700-acres and are worth more than $100 million.
David Copperfield’s Midtown Manhattan penthouse is located just south of Central Park. The home is 10,000 square feet across four floors with an additional 6,000 square feet of terraces and rooftop gardens. The home has 18 rooms and a glass-enclosed indoor lap pool. In 1997, the penthouse cost Copperfield $7.4 million. Today, it is valued at more than $60 million when compared to comparable properties in the neighborhood. Copperfield’s Manhattan penthouse also houses the illusionist’s 300 antique arcade games and life-sized antique mannequins, which he has hanging suspended from the living room walls.
Now, on to Copperfield’s magic memorabilia. David owns the world’s largest collection of magic memorabilia. The collection contains more than 150,000 items and books with especially valuable items from Harry Houdini, Georges Melies, and the father of modern magic, Robert Houdin. The collection is housed in a 40,000 square foot warehouse located several miles off the Las Vegas Strip. The collection is irreplaceable and priceless. It is also open only to fellow magicians, historians, academics, and actors researching roles. He rarely opens the collection to a member of the media.
Copperfield’s International Museum and Library of the Conjuring Arts sounds like something out of the Harry Potter universe. His collection is truly priceless, but to put some numbers on it, he’s spent upwards of $200 million to assemble everything. That $200 million includes a monumental restoration process and safety precautions such as fireproofing the warehouse. Analysts have valued the collection at a mind-boggling $500 million. That $500 million is assuming you can even put a price on items such as Harry Houdini’s straight jacket, artifacts from 19th century magicians, and the Best Director Oscar for Casablanca.
The collection began in 1991 when Copperfield purchased the Mulholland Library of Conjuring and the Allied Arts for $2.2 million at a savings-and-loan bailout auction. The key to this acquisition was that it was the largest collection of Houdini memorabilia available. Copperfield’s collection contains such priceless artifacts as Houdini’s Water Torture Cabinet, the straight jacket he escaped from, the very first “origami” box a “lovely assistant” was put into and cut into pieces, and more. The collection and hushed atmosphere of the warehouse demands respect.
Copperfield is by far the most dominant collector of magic memorabilia. But it isn’t just the work of others or toys from past generations, his museum is also an archive of his own work. Housed within is every press clipping, trick, prop, and costume David Copperfield has ever worn in a show. These account for about 62,000 items in the warehouse. There are posters on every wall, from every generation, including the sole surviving poster of Herrmann the Great, a French magician practicing in the latter half of the 19th century. That poster alone is valued at more than $60,000.
Copperfield owns the original Howdy Doody dolls and Shari Lewis’ Lamb Chop puppet, which hang from the wall, grinning maniacally and staring you down. Robert Houdin’s mystery clocks and automatons dating back to the late 19th century are also housed in Copperfield’s collection, including the Singing Lesson – an over 100-year old machine valued at $1 million that teaches a robotic bird how to sing.
Between ticket sales, real estate, and his magic memorabilia collection, David Copperfield is personally worth $1 billion. When you combine the escalating value of real estate and the $50-60 million he makes every year off performances alone, you can start to understand how David Copperfield became the world’s very first billionaire magician. It is a feat that even Harry Houdini himself would have to have seen to believe.