Arrested Development

We’ll be honest: We were sorely tempted to just post that headline with the requisite Arrested Development picture and call it a day. But instead, we’ll bring you this story, currently being reported on over at Deadline: Having apparently been strong-armed by notorious statue thief and Dickensian urchin David Copperfield, members of Congress are currently considering legislation that would recognize magic as a “rare and valuable art form and national treasure.”

The bill is sponsored by six Republican Congress members—presumably drawn to the way magicians can aggressively cut into things (women in boxes, decks of cards, city and state budgets) without doing them any noticeable harm—but is described by Copperfield as “a bipartisan effort.” After all, America is a country divided right now, but not so fractured that we can’t all agree that people bedecked in capes, sequins, and a fine layer of pigeon and rabbit shit shouldn’t finally have their day.


If it passes, the largest effect of the bill will likely be on federal funding for the arts, making it easier for magicians to acquire grants to refine and develop their acts. Copperfield presumably masterminded the new legislation from his semi-private Museum & Library Of The Conjuring Arts in Las Vegas, which is one of the largest collections of Harry Houdini memorabilia in the world. Famously, Copperfield acquired much of his collection when he bought out Los Angeles’ Mulholland Library of Conjuring And The Allied Arts in 1991, as recounted in a celebrated New Yorker profile of the Mulholland’s former curator, magician and scholar Ricky Jay. (Ironically, it’s possible that the Library Of Congress’ attempts to acquire the collection at the time of the sale might have gone better had the materials inside been legally classified as “art.”)