FBI investigating Copperfield

FBI agents raided the Las Vegas warehouse of magician David Copperfield on Wednesday in an investigation of possible sexual misconduct by the illusionist, a source with knowledge of the investigation said.

Copperfield's accuser said the misconduct occurred outside the country, but the case came under the FBI's jurisdiction because the accuser was a U.S. citizen, the source said.

Copperfield's lawyer, David Chesnoff, confirmed Thursday his client was the subject of an investigation.

"If in fact those are the allegations, unfortunately false allegations are all too often made against famous individuals," Chesnoff said. "But we are confident the investigation will conclude favorably."

Agents from the FBI's Seattle office, who were heading the investigation, led the search of the warehouse on Russell Road near Valley View Boulevard. FBI agent David Staretz, spokesman for the Las Vegas office, confirmed "investigative activity" at the warehouse.

The building serves as a rehearsal studio and prop storage warehouse and includes a second-floor apartment for the magician. It also houses Copperfield's career archives and a private museum for the 80,000-piece collection of magic memorabilia he has purchased over the years.

Vintage posters, books and bric-a-brac -- such as a harness used in an illusion Orson Welles performed with Rita Hayworth for World War II bond drives -- are stored and maintained by a full-time curator in climate-controlled storage cases.

Copperfield is fond of conducting midnight tours of the warehouse for small groups of guests. The tours are full of surprises, beginning with a "secret door" entry into the office and conference room -- through an exterior lobby decorated like a lingerie shop -- and culminating in an eerie seance-like special effect.

By Thursday afternoon, gates to the warehouse were closed and locked. The only activity visible from the street involved about a dozen young men and women trickling out of the building, piling into cars and driving away.

Copperfield has owned the warehouse since 1991 under one of his companies, Boy Magician Inc.

The world-renowned performer anchors the schedule of the MGM Grand's 740-seat Hollywood Theatre, with other acts slotted around his show dates. He was scheduled to perform in Southeast Asia starting next week before returning to the MGM Grand in mid-November for a six-week stint.

Despite his longtime Las Vegas ties, the magician never became a full-time headliner on the Strip, preferring to tour at least half the year to maintain his international appeal. He first headlined at Caesars Palace in 1984, and as his popularity spread through annual TV specials, the number of weeks he spent there increased each year until the casino's original showroom closed in 2000.

His illusions include making the Statue of Liberty disappear and walking through the Great Wall of China.

Review-Journal reporter Mike Weatherford and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact reporter Brian Haynes at bhaynes@reviewjournal.com or (702) 383-0281.