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David Copperfield is among the world's wealthiest entertainers. Image via Homer Liwag/Wikimedia Commons. Claimed as free for use by original copyright holder. (CCA-BY-4.0)

A lawsuit against David Copperfield unraveled part of the magician’s code in court late Friday, the details explaining away one of the entertainer’s favorite illusions.

Copperfield’s attorney, writes ABC7, explained the method in a hearing last week.

The stupendously wealthy Copperfield – worth almost $1 billion – is being sued by Gavin Cox, who was injured in a 2013 performance in Las Vegas. Along with the magician, Cox also named MGM and a construction company as defendants.

In the illusion, 13 people disappear from a cage suspended in midair above the stage, only to reappear behind the audience. According to ABC7, the stunt has been performed with thousands of volunteers over the course of the past 15 years.

“The curtains are dropped. The participants who are in the platform are removed from the platform,” said Ted Blumberg, Copperfield’s attorney.

Screened by members of Copperfield’s team, Cox was asked a handful of preliminary questions: whether he could run, was a member of the press or a magician himself.

Cox, who was injured in 2014, called the trick an “accident waiting to happen.” The 55-year old British national says he was selected along with a dozen other members of the audience, selected at random and corralled into the cage atop the stage.

Handed a flashlight and asked to sit, the lights went low. Shortly thereafter, the participants were asked to quickly take a hidden route off-stage to the back of the theater.

The MGM Grand was also named as a defendant in Cox’s suit. Image via Flickr/user:smneale. (CCA-BY-2.0)

“A curtain comes down over the box and torchlight shines out to give the impression we are still in there,” explained Cox in 2016.

In reality, says Cox, “all hell broke loose.”

“It was like a fire alarm went off,” he said. “They were saying ‘hurry, run, run, run.’ It was total pandemonium.”

“You don’t know where you are going.”

Along the way, claims Cox, he slipped, falling into a dark, non-cordoned construction zone. The accident caused permanent brain damage.

Little guidance, allege Cox and his lawyer, was provided along the dimly-lit, treacherous path.

ABC7 reports that Copperfield is expected to testify next week and may be pressed for further details on how the trick is performed. Attorneys for the magician and MGM have so far tried to keep testimony concerning the illusion and its mechanics from being publicly disclosed.

They argued that the details are precious trade secrets – but failed to sway the judge, who sided with Cox and demanded that Copperfield come clean and violate the most sacred tenet of the magician’s code.

Since the suit was first filed, Cox has charged Copperfield with failing “to prevent, inspect, maintain and warn of dangerous conditions.” MGM is being held responsible for not being able to “devise a trick that would be safe for audience participants.”

Cox, who’s a cook, purportedly lost some feeling in his hands as well as his sense of smell. His wife says the accident and subsequent brain damage have cost them their home and life savings.

Sources

David Copperfield’s famous vanishing crowd trick revealed in court amid lawsuit

Las Vegas: Trial begins in lawsuit focused on David Copperfield show

NEWS This is how David Copperfield made his audience ‘disappear’

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