End of a Magical Era: Le Grand David Auction

Inside Magic Image of Le Grand David Auction PosterAfter more than 35 years entertaining live audiences, the world’s longest running stage magic production, “Marco the Magi Presents Le Grand David and His Own Spectacular Magic Company,” is closing the doors of their landmark Cabot Street Cinema Theatre. A long established staple of downtown Beverly, the Cabot Theatre will be finding a new owner, as will the numerous sculptures, stage curtains, props, paintings, and magic illusions inside.

On February 23rd Kaminski Auctions will present at auction the unique and intriguing contents of the Cabot Street Cinema Theatre. From artwork celebrating Le Grand David’s Spectacular Magic Company to elaborate illusions, there will be something of interest for local fans and illusionists alike.

Among the most highly valued items in the upcoming auction is a 500-pound sculpture by artist David F. Bull entitled, “Marco the Magi’s Production of Le Grand David and his own Spectacular Magic Company.” The twenty-four inch high bronze on canted mahogany base depicts “The Broom Levitation,” (Aerial Suspension) with Le Grand David (DESC) floating above his stage partner Marco the Magi and surrounded by four other magic company characters. Signed and dated, and bearing the foundry mark from “White Horse Production Inc.,” the piece is valued at $25,000 to $35,000.

The “Book of Life” illusion, based on the Fu Manchu illusion, will also be included in the sale. The piece was used for the closing credits in Le Grand David’s Larcom Theatre production, and features ten painted panels decorated with dragons and magic company characters.

This life size illusion measures ninety-five inches tall and has an estimate of $10,000 to $20,000.

Many fans and illusion practitioners are sure to be excited to see a very special combination of two Okito illusions cross the auction block. These illusions – Hi-Strung and The Mandarin’s Dream – were combined to present the “Pagoda Illusion,” to end every show at the Cabot Street Cinema Theatre, when three boxes placed inside a pagoda would disappear to reveal Marco the Magi. The “Pagoda Illusion is estimated to bring between $8,000 and $10,000.

One of the most thrilling lots will surely be the stunning “Impalement” illusion, in which an assistant would be lifted onto a board and balanced on the point of a sword. Then, he/she would appear to suddenly drop down and be impaled on the sword, only to be magically elevated again by Le Grand David. This complex illusion was built by Owen Magic Supreme and performed in the Larcom Theatre for over twenty years (estimate $5,000-$7,000).

Among the other illusions included are the monumental sized and intricately hand-painted “Matter through Matter” illusion, the “Glass Penetration” illusion, the two “Sword Box” illusions, and the signature floating table used by Marco the Magi. The auction will also include a number of backdrop curtains and costumes. One of the most striking of these is the peacock feather painted canvas backdrop used during Marco the Magi’s “Floating Table” illusion.

Original artworks will also feature in the sale. Highlights include Rick Heath’s “I’ve Seen Le Grand David,” acrylic on canvas, and “Parrot Vest Poster,” an acrylic on canvas, depicting the cast in their signatures roles.

Preview will be held at both the Larcom and Cabot Street Theatres, Thursday, February 20th through Saturday, February 22nd, from 10:00am to 5:00pm daily. Preview will also be held the day of sale, February 23rd, beginning at 8:00am. The auction will commence at 10:00am in the Cabot Street Cinema Theatre. To view the auction catalog, or to register to bid online, visit kaminskiauctions.com.

Buy Dai Vernon’s Ashes at Auction

We learned from Alan Watson’s weekly newsletter, Magic New Zealand, of a once in a lifetime auction featuring the collections of Dai Vernon and Bruce Cervon scheduled for January 30, 2010.

(If you do not already receive Mr. Watson’s newsletter, you should.  It is must reading for any magician or lover of magical things.  Visit his site and sign-up today by going here).

In addition to the items from the Professor and Mr. Cervon, Gabe Fajuri has included additional “rare books, apparatus and ephemera.”  You can check out the on-line catalog here.

The auction will be live and held in Chicago but accessible to participants around the world via the internets. Make sure you visit http://www.liveauctioneers.com/catalog/20344 to register and gain approval to participate well-before the auction day.

The catalog of items up for sale is better than any wish book we can recall.  Amazing things, interesting magic, incredible collections of props and manuscripts are all up for bid.

Bruce Cervon was not only the essential author of all things Dai Vernon, he was also an accomplished magician, performer, actor, and lecturer.  After his passing in 2007, his wife published the now famous Castle Notebooks, called by some the “Holy Grail” of magic texts.

Of particular interest to the Inside Magic Editorial Board is a small glass bottle identified as Dai Vernon’s “Ashes.” We know from reading Karl Johnson’s extraordinary biography, The Magician and the Cardsharp: The Search for America’s Greatest Sleight-of-Hand Artist,  The Professor was cremated and his ashes were brought to The Magic Castle.

Could this be a bottle containing the real remains of Dai Vernon?

No.  No, it’s not.  Close, though.

The auction catalog describes the item as:

Dai Vernon’s “Ashes.” Small bottle with cork stopper and color label bearing a silhouette of Dai Vernon and half-full of what the label describes as, “Guaranteed to have possibly come from the cigars of Dai Vernon, lovingly known as “The Professor.”/Collected from the upholstery of the love seats outside the Close Up Gallery of The Magic Castle between 1968 – 1987.” A decided novelty. Good condition.

It is a very good thing Dai Vernon smoked cigars rather than chewed tobacco.  As witnessed by our collection of spittoon drainings from the Thurston and Carter touring shows, evaporation is the constant foe of a diligent body fluid curator.

Check out the auction, get registered and approved.  This looks to be a great opportunity for collectors, scholars, and working magicians alike.