Forbes has once again assembled a list of the top-paid magicians in the industry, and once again, David Copperfield rests very comfortably atop it, bringing in $61.5 million pre-tax in the fiscal year that ended in June 2017. Some of that came from the 621 shows he performed in Las Vegas, and some came from his resorts at Musha Cay in the Bahamas, where the rates start at $39,000 a day for up to 12 persons with a 4-night minimum.
Please indulge a quick and personal aside. I grew up watching David Copperfield’s specials on television, and this trick made such an impact on me, to this day, it’s still what I think of whenever his name comes up. He combined illusion and theater in a way I didn’t know was possible, and it formed the foundation of my lifelong love of magic.
Trailing behind Copperfield are the bad boys of magic, Penn & Teller, who took in earnings of $30.5 million. Their residency at the Rio in Las Vegas nets them about $100,000 a night. In a distant third is Criss Angel with $14.5 million – not a bad payday for ten shows a week at the Luxor.
The fourth spot is a wee bit of a cheat, as it goes to The Illusionists, a touring production with a rotating cast of performers. It’s the most successful magic show in Broadway history, and earned $11.5 million for the year. Rounding out the top five is Dynamo, who pulled a nice $9 million thanks to arena shows in Australia and a brand partnership with FC Barcelona.