A lawsuit claims the magician reneged on a tour to avoid discussing his criminal case

By Howard Breuer
Updated November 07, 2007 07:45 AM
Credit: Frank Rumpenhorst/EPA

Did David Copperfield perform a vanishing act? Foreign promoters are suing the illusionist for nearly $5 million, claiming the embattled star skipped out on a planned Asian tour once word got out that he was under investigation for sexual misconduct.

The plaintiffs – Viva Art International Ltd. of the Channel Islands and MAZ Concerts, Inc. of Ontario – say that on Oct. 18, one day after the FBI’s highly publicized raid on Copperfield’s warehouse, the magician backed out of the shows, either because the FBI told him not to travel abroad or because he wanted to avoid questions about the alleged assault on his private island in the Bahamas.

“After the allegations of sexual assault became public in media around the world, Copperfield had no intention of honoring his obligations … [which] would have required him to make public appearances, answer questions from foreign authorities upon entry into their countries, and give interviews to various foreign news outlets overseas,” says the 17-page lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Los Angeles.

The illusionist’s spokesman issued a statement late Wednesday denying the claims.

“David Copperfield canceled his overseas tour because promoters did not honor their contractual commitments, including failing to make a contractual payment of more than $1 million and canceling a segment of the tour without Mr. Copperfield’s consent,” says the statement. “The cancellations had nothing to with a federal investigation into allegations by an unidentified woman.”

Copperfield’s attorney has vehemently denied the allegations of impropriety, which have not yet resulted in any arrest or filing of criminal charges.

According to the lawsuit, Copperfield planned 38 shows in Southeast Asia from Oct. 23 to Nov. 10, and 10 shows in Abu Dhabi from Dec. 3 to Dec. 9. When a scheduling conflict arose for Abu Dhabi, promoters claim Copperfield’s camp demanded an additional $500,000 in compensation and an immediate $1.1 million payment on Oct. 16. When the promoters balked, they claim the magician summarily canceled the entire tour.

The promoters are seeking punitive damages, attorney fees, $2.3 million in deposits and other expenses, and at least $2.5 million in lost profits.