Go ahead, check your wallet; Less money than you thought, right? David Copperfield stole some while you were reading this caption.
Photo: Dave Kotinsky (Getty Images)

And now, ladies and gentlemen, if you’ll direct your attention over here, we have the next amazing feat of prestidigitation for you! Simply adjust your screen settings for maximum ease of reading, place the flask back in your office desk drawer before anyone sees it, and settle in for a little trick we like to call the Vanishing Liability.

Presumably using his mental powers of magic, famed illusionist and early adopter of Blue Steel David Copperfield has managed to conjure his way out of a lawsuit against him. According to The Guardian, a Las Vegas jury has found Copperfield negligent but not financially responsible for the injury of a British tourist during a 2013 performance at the MGM Grand. Gavin Cox and his spouse sued the magician, the hotel, and Copperfield’s company for injuries Cox sustained during a fall he suffered while participating in a vanishing-act trick during the show. But while the weeks-long court case resulted in all three parties being found negligent, there was no verdict of financial liability, meaning Cox is 100 percent responsible for his injuries and can’t sue for payment. (Estimates for the cost of Cox’s medical treatment range upwards of $400,000.)


But the lawsuit meant a jury got the full details of a trick involving as many as 13 audience members all vanishing from the stage, only to reappear seconds later at the back of the theater, waving flashlights. Cox was part of one of these groups, and over the course of between 60 and 90 seconds, stagehands rush the volunteers through terrain including “dark curtains, down passageways, around corners, outdoors, indoors, and through a kitchen” en route to reappearing in the rear of the theater. Copperfield’s lawyer had attempted to prevent disclosure of the details of this trick, to which we assume the jury responded, “Uh, are you fucking kidding? Let us peek behind the curtain or else.”

The show’s producer said that 55,000 people had taken part in the trick over the years, and Copperfield added no one had ever gotten hurt in the 20 years he’d been performing the feat. (“Until now,” Cox’s lawyer probably interjected.) Cox, a former chef, said that after his fall during the rush he couldn’t remember getting up to finish the trick. This will likely be it for Cox’s participation in magic shows, unless you count his ongoing participation in the illusion of capitalist exchange values.