David Copperfield reveals secret of Lucky 13 vanishing trick in lawsuit: 5 of his greatest tricks

An audience member has filed a negligence lawsuit against David Copperfield, saying that he was injured after taking part in a trick.
An audience member has filed a negligence lawsuit against David Copperfield, saying that he was injured after taking part in a trick.PHOTO: AFP

Magician David Copperfield, 61, was forced to reveal the secret of his signature "Lucky #13" vanishing trick in court, after a negligence lawsuit was filed against him by an audience member.

British chef Gavin Cox, 58, was among the 13 random people chosen from the audience to participate in the illusion at a show at the MGM Grand Las Vegas on Nov 12, 2013.

Cox claimed in his lawsuit that he was injured during the act, after he got onto the stage and "disappeared" behind a giant curtain.

He claimed that he was made to walk through hidden passageways that were filled with dust and debris, before he emerged at the back of the theatre.

The lawsuit forced the Copperfield to reveal the mechanics of the trick, which he has performed for at least a decade.

Here is a look at five of Copperfield's greatest tricks.

1. Making Lady Liberty disappear

Among Copperfield's best-known tricks is making the Statue of Liberty in New York City disappear in front of a live television audience in 1983.

To pull off the trick, he raised a giant sheet to hide the statue, before lowering it to reveal that it has vanished.

A helicopter camera crew even passes through the space to show that it is truly empty. He then makes Lady Liberty reappear.

Copperfield reportedly said that the illusion was meant to emphasise the importance of freedom and "how precious liberty is and how easily it can be lost".

2. Walking through the Great Wall of China

Even the seemingly impenetrable Great Wall of China would not get in the way of Copperfield's illusion.

In a 1986 television special, he appears to walk through the Great Wall and emerges on the other side a few minutes later.

Audience members sitting on each side and above the wall keep their eyes on a lighted box showing only Copperfield's silhouette, as he gradually disappears.

A device monitoring his heartbeat supposedly becomes flat, before he reappears from the other side of the wall unharmed.

3. Flying in the air

Copperfield made his childhood dream come true when he first "flew" above a stage in a live show in 1992.

In an interview, he shared that as an only child, he often felt lonely and dreamt of soaring through the air like a bird.

He begins the act by holding a bird in his hand before letting it fly. He then moves his hands gracefully in the air, before he seemingly floats himself.

Copperfield is even shown "flying" through several rotating hoops.

4. Escaping from Alcatraz

Wearing a straitjacket and standing behind prison bars, Copperfield performed a series of acts in an incredible escape from Alcatraz prison in 1987.

With just 2½ minutes before a bomb is detonated, he frees himself from a cell in the former maximum security prison, passes through the prison cell door, before he picks a lock using three coins that have been turned into a tool.

In the 10 minute-long act, he also conjures a cat from a box to distract two prison guard dogs and emerges a free man, before escaping in a helicopter dressed in a police uniform.

5. Levitating over the Grand Canyon

As Welsh singer Bonnie Taylor belts her hit song Holding Out For A Hero, Copperfield is shown in his 1984 stunt getting into a seated position, before he levitates in the air and passes through a structure with hoops.

He then flies through the Grand Canyon for several minutes, as the wind rustles in his hair, before safely landing back where he started.