Ever since gambling became legal in more American cities, casinos have accounted for a smaller and smaller share of Las Vegas’ tourism revenue. So Sin City bridged this gap with big-name live entertainment. Magic shows in particular have been a major part of Las Vegas’ story. Eyeliner-loving illusionist Criss Angel knows this better than anyone. At 48, he’s able to afford a 25,000-square-foot mansion in the desert outside the Strip and a fleet of high-ticket cars to park in front of it, largely thanks to the lavish show he has been performing at the Luxor since 2008. Paul M. Barrett delves into Angel’s financial acumen in an article for Bloomberg Business entitled “Criss Angel’s Magical $70 Million-A-Year Profit Machine.”
The article arrives as Angel is retiring his profitable Believe, a collaboration with Cirque Du Soleil, and prepares to unveil an ambitious and risky new show called Mindfreak Live! Barrett chalks up a lot of Angel’s success to his willingness to diversify, promoting his personal brand through live appearances, viral videos, merchandising, and a series on A&E. He’s not merely a magician; he rules his own magic empire.
The article depicts Angel as being such a hands-on, detail-oriented mogul that he frets over the cost of either repairing or replacing a straightjacket used in his show. The article also reveals that Angel handles his own merchandising, preferring to sell his popular magic kits out of his own warehouse rather than getting a toy company involved. These are traits he says he inherited from his late father, who operated coffee shops in Long Island.
Naturally, Angel’s rock star persona and his opulent business dealings have attracted criticism. The article quotes rival magician Penn Jillette, who says that Angel is “not in the category of David Copperfield.” A magic historian, meanwhile, dismisses Angel’s act as “silly” and detrimental to magic. So far, though, Angel has been staggeringly successful in his quest to become the 21st century’s Wayne Newton.