The Story of... David Copperfield and the 'Gypsy fortune teller'



You can't always get what you want...

Not that you can blame the master illusionist David Copperfield for trying; he was once described by Forbes as the most commercially successful magician in history.

His interest was piqued after a 100-year-old Gypsy fortune teller machine was found in a restaurant in the former Old West.

The 100-year-old Gypsy fortune
teller machine

Old Westkitsch, Montana, is the town in which the machine was discovered, according to various news websites.

Today, the machine has a few malfunctions. Yet it retains all the aesthetic glory - both beguiling and spooky - which led people to seek their fortune via its coin slot.

Just one look at the machine is enough to gauge its uniqueness; yet it could be even more special than you might think.

According to Copperfield, the machine could in fact be one-of-a-kind.

While other experts estimate the presence of two or more examples in the world, the illusionist is sure this is the only one.

What makes this machine so remarkable? Behind its light-up eyeballs is a record queued within the gypsy.

When asked to predict a fortune, the gypsy does so verbally off the vinyl record - for a nickel a go.

It wasn't long before the master magician, most famous for once making the Statue of Liberty disappear, put in an offer: a cool $2m.


Master magician: David Copperfield

Copperfield was hoping to add the robot Gypsy to his collection of circa-1900 penny arcade machines - home to the Temple of Mystery and other historic mechanical marvels.

He and various other collectors have offered their money, yet each has been turned down by the Montana Heritage Commission.

"If we start selling our collection for money, what do we have?"

It's a good question from the Commission's point of view. According to reports, Old Westkitsch is now doing a roaring trade thanks to the machine.

We've often written about the historic and ongoing relationship between Museums, heritage organisations and collectors.

But it seems that this one-of-a-kind item will remain out of collectors' hands for the foreseeable future.


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