Forbes has added legendary magician David Copperfield to its “Ones To Watch” list, where it puts people likely to make it to the magazine’s list of the 400 richest Americans. After more than a decade spent performing in Las Vegas and many years of world tours, Copperfield has built an empire worth an estimated $800 million, according to Forbes, and is fast-approaching the rare self-made celebrity billionaire status—an accomplishment that Oprah Winfrey is the only other entertainer to have achieved thus far. (The least rich person on the Forbes 400 is currently worth $1.3 billion.)
But even if Copperfield doesn’t manage to join Oprah in that distinction, he can relish in another, quirkier honor: Over the past 20-odd years, Copperfield has quietly, and rather amazingly, amassed the world’s largest collection of magic memorabilia.
Held in a 40,000 square foot warehouse—fittingly equipped with a secret entrance door—the collection includes over 150,000 artifacts Copperfield claims to have spent more than $200 million to acquire.
The virtually endless collection of memorabilia ranges from posters of playbills, to magazine covers, trophies, puppets, clocks, and automatons. His very first purchase, made back in 1991, was the 80,000-piece, 15,000-volume Mulholland Library, which he bought for $2.2 million. Some of the most impressive holdings include the world’s largest collections of Harry Houdini, Georges Melies, and Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin memorabilia, the sole surviving poster of Herrmann the Great, worth more than $60,000, and a machine called the Singing Lesson, which is worth $1 million.
Copperfield rarely allows anyone outside of close friends, fellow magicians and the occasional media person to enter his magic emporium. Oprah is among the few to have seen it. Here’s a video from last year:
Copperfield recently announced his plans to return to stage after several years spent on the sidelines. Which could mean he’s intent on continuing to build his massive magic emporium.