‘Magic David called’: David Copperfield repeatedly contacted Jeffrey Epstein | US news

The message pads appear a little faded, but the handwriting on the spiral-bound notebooks is clear enough.

Staff at Jeffrey Epstein’s mansion in Florida’s Palm Beach used the pads to jot down the names of the people who had called the financier, and between 2004 and 2005, one well-known person appeared to be calling persistently.

Not Prince Andrew or Bill Gates, or even Bill Clinton, the former US president, though all of them have come under a spotlight over their relationships with the disgraced billionaire.

The name on the pads is one that – until recently – has had far less scrutiny: David Copperfield.

According to copies of the phone message pads, seen by the Guardian, the magician appears to have left messages for Epstein 16 times in just a few months. The notations on the pads include brief messages such as “it’s important” and “just called to say hello”. One says “it’s jackpot” without further explanation.

In a written response to questions from the Guardian US, Copperfield’s lawyers denied that he had left “multiple messages” for Epstein. “Any messages that were left would have been left by our client’s office in response to a request by Epstein for tickets to a show,” the lawyers said.

The Guardian has examined Copperfield’s contacts with Epstein, a convicted sex offender who committed suicide in prison in 2019, as part of a broader investigation that includes an examination of allegations of sexual misconduct and inappropriate behavior by the illusionist. Copperfield has denied ever engaging in sexual misconduct or inappropriate behavior.

The phone messages were not the only alleged contacts between the magician and the financier. The Guardian’s investigation found that Copperfield appears to have met with Epstein at least three times, according to interviews with witnesses, court records and police evidence. Two Epstein victims have separately told the Guardian they were present at such meetings – one at a dinner at Epstein’s home in 2004 and the other at Copperfield’s Las Vegas “warehouse” the same year.

Were the two men close? His lawyers insist not. They said Copperfield – who has not previously commented on his relationship with Epstein – “was not a friend of Jeffrey Epstein”.

Jeffrey Epstein’s waterfront home in Palm Beach, Florida, in 2020. Photograph: Miami Herald/TNS/Getty Images

They also said he was completely unaware of Epstein’s “horrific crimes”. “Like the rest of the world, he learned about it from the press.”

Sigrid McCawley, a victims’ rights attorney at the law firm Boies Schiller Flexner who has represented multiple Epstein victims, argues that there are still questions to answer. “David Copperfield cannot hide or make his close friendship with Jeffrey Epstein disappear,” she said.

‘I was invited backstage’

Copperfield’s alleged relationship with Epstein made headlines just a few months ago, in January of this year, after the illusionist’s name was among those referenced in newly unsealed court records in an Epstein-related case. The inclusion of Copperfield’s name in the court records does not mean he committed any crime or knew about Epstein’s criminal conduct.

The court records included new details about an alleged conversation Copperfield had with a woman, Johanna Sjoberg, who would years later accuse Epstein of abusing her.

In a sworn deposition, Sjoberg alleged she had been invited to a dinner at Epstein’s house and had been offered a chance to meet the famous magician. Sjoberg confirmed to the Guardian that the dinner took place in 2004.

Sjoberg – who was in her 20s at the time of the dinner – claimed in the deposition that she had waited at the house along with a girl who she had not met before and seemed very young. She testified that Copperfield “did some magic tricks”. She said she believed that Copperfield and Epstein were friends.

Epstein was running a well-established operation by this time, recruiting girls and women from local schools and colleges to give him massages that led to sexual abuse. In some cases, Epstein paid the young women to enlist others they knew. There is no suggestion that Copperfield was participating in this scheme or Epstein’s abuse.

In her deposition, a lawyer asked Sjoberg: “Did Copperfield ever discuss Jeffrey’s involvement with young girls with you?”

She responded: “He questioned me if I was aware that girls were getting paid to find other girls.”

In the deposition, she said Copperfield didn’t tell her any specifics, including whether the girls were teenagers.

Do you have any information to share? You can reach the Guardian US securely via [email protected], or (using a non-work phone) use Signal or WhatsApp to message +1-646-886-8761. For the most secure communications, use SecureDrop or see our guide.

Asked by the Guardian to explain his remark to Sjoberg, lawyers for Copperfield said in written response that he had “heard a rumor about girls being paid to bring other girls to the Epstein residence”.

The lawyers said Copperfield did not recall from whom he had heard the rumor, and that he had not taken it lightly or dismissed it out of hand.

He asked Sjoberg about it “out of surprise (and concern for her)”, his lawyers said. When Sjoberg said nothing to “reinforce the rumor” and did not express concern, Copperfield dropped the matter, his lawyers said, as he “would have seen no reason to contact law enforcement or to raise the matter with others”.

Sjoberg’s interaction with Copperfield at the dinner was widely reported by media outlets when it was made public in January. Copperfield did not issue a statement at that time.

Speaking for the first time about her interactions with Copperfield since her 2016 deposition was unsealed, Sjoberg told the Guardian she believed Copperfield was “trying to figure out what was happening” with Epstein and that she was “unaware if they kept up any type of friendship after that dinner party”.

She also said that she remained in contact with Copperfield after meeting him for the first time at Epstein’s home. Epstein bought Sjoberg a ticket to a Copperfield show shortly after the 2004 dinner, she said. Epstein “knew I loved magic and watched Copperfield on TV growing up”.

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell on 15 March 2005 in New York City. Maxwell was later convicted of helping Epstein sexually abuse teenage girls. Photograph: Patrick McMullan/Getty Images

She was in the front row, she said, and Copperfield invited her backstage afterwards. “I got to see his tour bus,” she recalled. “It was as I was leaving that we exchanged numbers. He then invited me to come hang out in Miami for the day before his show the next evening. We went shopping and had lunch.”

Sjoberg said Copperfield made no sexual advances on her and was “nothing but kind to me”.

In total she said she saw him “three times around 2004, only once with Epstein’’ and they spoke “a few times” after the dinner party. She also saw him in Las Vegas, while she was on a girls trip, around 11 years ago, she recalled.

Sjoberg said that she hadn’t heard from the magician since then, until she received a call from Copperfield in March. It was the same day that the Guardian sent a representative for Copperfield questions about his relationship with Epstein.

“He was hoping that I would make a statement about my experiences with him,” she said. She said she told him that she had already exchanged a message with a Guardian reporter in January 2024 about the Copperfield dinner. She then sent him a screenshot of the message she had sent to the Guardian.

Sjoberg said she was initially hesitant to speak on the record to the Guardian about Copperfield, saying: “I know that may create another media circus.” She said she did not wish to say anything further publicly on this subject, due to the unwanted attention that speaking out about Epstein and those around him has already brought her.

Copperfield is not the only famous person Sjoberg said she had met as a result of her relationship with Epstein. As part of the Epstein-related case in which Sjoberg made comments about Copperfield, Sjoberg also described her alleged interactions with Prince Andrew, including her allegation that he touched her breast. Prince Andrew denied the allegation.

‘Magic David called’

The message books that were seized by police in 2005 from Epstein’s Florida home as part of the criminal investigation into Epstein offer clues about who he was in touch with before he was charged one year later with soliciting prostitution, and roughly 14 years before he was indicted for child sex trafficking.

The pads were collected during the execution of a search warrant. They were found both inside the residence and in Epstein’s trash, according to court records filed in an Epstein-related case. Multiple witnesses have said that the collected messages accurately reflect those taken by various staff at the Palm Beach mansion, the court records say.

He left messages for Epstein 16 times in three months, the message pads suggest.

The police also seized a smaller batch of pads from 2002 and 2003, in which there is no record of calls from Copperfield.

The first dated message to Epstein from Copperfield in the pads, on 21 November 2004, simply reads: “it’s important”.

Some of the messages appear to suggest a familiarity between Copperfield and Epstein. On the evening of 9 December at 7.05pm, the message pads record, the illusionist left a message that he’d “just called to say hello”. Ten days later they record he left another message saying the same thing.

Another reads: “Magic David called.”

On 9 January 2005, Epstein had one message from Copperfield and another from one of Copperfield’s assistants, who appears to be arranging a time for Epstein to see one of the magician’s shows.

“The 28th will be the best day to come and see show,” it reads. “The show starts at 8.30.” Copperfield was in Florida on tour at the time and performing at the Carol Morsani Hall in Tampa on this night, according to records. The following morning Copperfield calls again. “He is just checking you can reach him at home,” the note said.

He was not the only one leaving messages.

The model agent Jean-Luc Brunel – who hanged himself in jail in 2022 while being investigated for sex crimes – also called regularly during this period. Donald Trump, the former US president who has said he had a falling out with Epstein, disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and American banker Jes Staley also left messages for Epstein around this time. Staley, the former chief executive of Barclays, was fined $2.26m (£1.8m) by the UK Financial Conduct Authority last year and banned from holding senior positions in the UK after it was determined that he had mischaracterized the “nature of his relationship” with Epstein. In a statement at the time, Staley – who has denied having any knowledge of Epstein’s crimes – said he was disappointed by the FCA’s decision and would challenge it.

In the weeks leading up to the show on the 28th, the message pads indicate, Copperfield left more messages for Epstein.

In one, the message read: “he has some info”, and six days before the show: “it’s jackpot”. In another, Copperfield asked Epstein to call him back. In yet another, Copperfield said he could be reached at home.

Two messages from David Copperfield for Jeffrey Epstein: ‘Magic David called’ and ‘it’s jackpot’. The pads were seized by police from his Florida home as part of the criminal investigation into Epstein in 2005. Photograph: Handout

Along with denying that Copperfield left multiple messages for Epstein, the magician’s lawyers said he “never” called Epstein personally.

When the Guardian pressed Copperfield’s lawyers on this issue – noting that Copperfield’s direct phone number appears to be on the messages – his lawyers declined to comment.

Copperfield’s lawyers said he and Epstein were “at most, acquaintances” who only met on a “handful” of occasions. Copperfield believed, they said, that he only attended Epstein’s Florida mansion once, for around 15 minutes. They said he also visited Epstein’s New York home.

Alfredo Rodriguez, who was Epstein’s housekeeper at his Palm Beach mansion between September 2004 and February or March 2005, testified in a videotaped deposition in 2009 that Copperfield was in the house “maybe two or three times” when he was present. He said Copperfield “came to the house, played tricks” and then left.

Copperfield’s lawyers said Rodriguez “lacks any credibility”. Rodriguez, who died in 2015, was convicted in 2012 of an obstruction charge for failing to tell prosecutors that he was in possession of Epstein’s phonebook – commonly referred to as his “black book” – and for trying to sell it.

‘Clearly a close friend’

One of the questions that has been raised by Copperfield’s apparent contacts with Epstein is what the exact nature of their relationship was.

Five people, including Epstein himself, have said they believed the two men were friends. The Guardian has no evidence that Copperfield and Epstein had contact after 2005.

A courtroom artist’s sketch of defendant Jeffrey Epstein, center, with attorneys Martin Weinberg, left, and Marc Fernich during his arraignment in New York federal court, on 8 July 2019. Photograph: Elizabeth Williams/AP

In the videotaped deposition of Epstein conducted by the lawyer Jack Scarola in March 2010, Epstein was asked if he had a “social relationship” with Copperfield. Epstein responded that he believed that by raising “the names of friends of mine”, Scarola was seeking to stress his relationships and “imperil my business relationships”. He added: “I’m going to say, yes, I do know Mr Copperfield”.

Copperfield’s lawyers said any suggestion he was friends with Epstein “is totally false and a mischaracterization made by the media.” They added that it is “well-documented, Epstein ‘collected’ the rich and the famous”.

McCawley, the victims’ rights attorney at the law firm Boies Schiller Flexner, said “Consider that in just one, single trash-pull and search by police of just one of Epstein’s properties, message pads from a short period showed Copperfield called Epstein multiple times.”

Spencer Kuvin, a Florida lawyer at Goldlaw who has also represented Epstein victims, said: “Because Copperfield appears to have been within Epstein’s social orbit during that time frame, he should definitely be coming forward to give more information.”

Brad Edwards, an attorney who once represented Sjoberg and multiple other Epstein victims, said in his book, Relentless Pursuit, that Copperfield was “clearly a close friend” of Epstein’s, according to unnamed witnesses he had interviewed.

Edwards, who has claimed that he tried to depose Copperfield as part of his investigations of Epstein but was not able to due to “legal and logistical roadblocks”, also alleged in a legal filing in April 2011 that Copperfield had an improper interaction with one Epstein victim, but did not provide any details or substantiate the claim. Copperfield’s lawyers declined to comment on this allegation.

Edwards declined to elaborate on the claim, saying in a Whatsapp message to a reporter that he was not in a position to assist the Guardian.

Magician David Copperfield poses in Berlin on 3 June 2005. Photograph: Oliver Lang/DDP/AFP/Getty Images

Public records show that one Epstein victim who said she was a teenager at the time of her abuse told detectives as part of a 2005 police investigation that Copperfield tickets were among the gifts that Epstein gave her during the time he was sexually abusing her in the early to mid-2000s.

“I got show tickets. I went and saw like David Copperfield, I had VIP tickets or something like that,” she said.

‘It did make me feel safe’

The same year that Sjoberg attended a dinner with the two men, another Epstein victim says she also spent time in their company. This time it was on Copperfield’s turf, in Las Vegas.

Jane Doe 15, who is one of more than 100 Epstein victims to have reached a settlement with Epstein’s estate in 2021, was 15 years old when she was abused by him.

She described in an interview with the Guardian how she was flown from her home town in Michigan to Las Vegas in early 2004 in order to meet the financier for the first time.

On her arrival at the airport, she says she was picked up by someone working for Epstein and taken straight to David Copperfield’s “warehouse”.

When she arrived she joined a group of other young women who had also been flown to Las Vegas for the occasion, to meet Epstein and Copperfield. She said she believed Epstein and the other girls had just seen the magician’s show at the MGM Grand – where he still performs today – but she had only arrived in time to “hang out with David and take a look at all his oddities that he kept in the back warehouse space”.

Jane Doe 15, right, posing, on left side, with a cardboard cutout of David Copperfield ‘so it looked like he was levitating you.’ She says she 15 when she met Copperfield and Epstein.

“I was just a kid so I was like ‘oh wow, magic, cool’,” Jane Doe 15 told the Guardian. There was a cardboard cutout of Copperfield that she posed with “so it looked like he was levitating you,” she recalled.

She kept a polaroid of this, which she shared with the Guardian. “I could not wait to tell my friends about this.”

Lawyers for Copperfield acknowledged he had given a tour to Epstein “and his guests” but said the tour he gave was at his museum and that he and Epstein were accompanied by 10 members of his staff. The lawyers said the tour took place before Epstein’s crimes were exposed and that Copperfield did not see or suspect anything inappropriate during the visit.

Jane Doe 15, who grew up living in a small farming town and loved to read Narnia books, was impressed by Copperfield. She described the “vibe” at Copperfield’s warehouse as “teen friendly”. She said, “I was being taken to … meet this magician …I’m being wowed and my defenses are going down.”

“There’s a safety in it … it felt very like an admittance that I was young and would be into this sort of thing.”

After the meeting, Jane Doe 15 claimed she was taken on Epstein’s private plane – which later became known among the press as the “Lolita Express” – with the other young women to Epstein’s ranch in New Mexico. It was there, just days later, that Epstein subjected her to a “vicious, prolonged sexual assault”, according to the lawsuit she filed against Epstein’s estate in 2019.

Meeting Copperfield “did make me feel safe,” she said. Jane Doe 15 did not allege Copperfield ever acted inappropriately with her.

“In my experience with Epstein there was so much of him fronting or showing off these celebrity associations, one of them being David Copperfield,” she said. “When he felt you could be getting nervous, he would bring up a celebrity association.”

You may also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *