What a World

11.21.13

David Copperfield’s Magical—and Utterly Bizarre—Caribbean Island

From the fountain of youth to a real treasure hunt, the famous illusionist has created a magical paradise at his 11-island property, which you can experience for just $37,500 a night.

Fancy a magic-imbued tropical getaway?

David Copperfield—the man who made the Statue of Liberty disappear and escaped from Alcatraz—has an even bigger secret up his sleeve: a wild, magical mini-archipelago in the Bahamas, replete with a fountain of youth, a secret underground city, and a treasure hunt bearing pirate booty. And it can all be yours for an exorbitant fee.

In 2006, the famed magician bought the 100-acre island of Musha Cay and its surrounding chain for $50 million, and with $40 million and five years of remodeling, made it into what he’s dubbed “the most magical vacation destination in the world.” Copperfield found the island after apparently drawing crisscrossing lines between Easter Island and Stonehenge, and the Pyramid of Giza and the Pyramid of the Sun in the Yucatan, and determining the exact spot at which the two intersected. The main resort island is actually one of 11 islands, all owned by the illusionist, in what’s been named Copperfield Bay. The others boast names like Forbidden Island, Enchanted Island, Secret Cay, and Imagine Island—incorporating 40 secluded beaches in all.

For a cool $37,500 a night for up to 12 occupants (then the price jumps up until reaching the maximum $52,500 for 24 people), you can occupy the five luxurious villas, each with its own private beach, when Copperfield’s family isn’t using it during their 10 weeks of annual vacation.

Aided by a staff of 30, you can watch a movie at Dave’s Drive-In, a beach movie theater, or play in a room filled with arcade games. You can lunch on a two-mile-long sandbar and play tennis on the courts. There’s a fleet of boats equipped for all sorts of water activities. Other optional activities are the Musha Olympic Games, in which guests compete in swimming races and egg throws, and the Musha United Secret Hero Alliance laser-tag competition, replete with “secret weapons, laser beams, helicopters, and explosive special effects.” These are included in the cost of the stay, but a Copperfield-written pirate treasure hunt ("Everybody has a treasure hunt," Copperfield says, "but nobody else can actually make a treasure appear at the end.”) will set you back $20,000. And choosing to celebrate your vacation with a fireworks show will cost another $25,000.

Delving into the mystical, a Harry Houdini room features the iconic magician’s billiards table and part of his water torture cell, while outside, a monkey statue rises out of the grass, revealing an entry into an underground passage that leads to a secret village. "I took all my magic knowledge into the island," Copperfield told Forbes.

“Who can resist a magic-imbued paradise crafted by the greatest illusionist of our time?”

The illusionist even claims that one of the islands contains the fountain of youth, reviving dying insects upon submersion. “[W]e found this liquid that in its simple stages can actually do miraculous things—brown leaves turn green,” he told a reporter at the Las Vegas Sun two years ago. “It is natural. Simple organisms that are near death are rejuvenated. So we don’t know about the effects on humans, but we are doing research and development.”

But that’s not all that’s in the works: Copperfield apparently plans to bring a group of monkeys to live in the secret village. As billed on the website, the monkeys will “read your mind” and guide you through a tropical jungle. He’ll also be adding a flock of green parrots that will be beckoned back to their cage at dusk with the ring of a bell, and possibly a herd of six giraffes.

But did Copperfield employ a bit of trickery to purchase Musha Cay in the first place? So alleges former owner and Blockbuster Video co-founder John Melk, who, in 2004, sued Copperfield for fraud. According to the court documents, he claims to have refused to sell Copperfield the property, citing lack of experience in managing a resort and his personal lifestyle choices. Soon after Melk agreed to sell it to a firm called Group of Companies Ltd., he received a call from Copperfield revealing it was he who actually purchased the property. The suit was mysterious settled two years later, but the island was hit with another spell of bad press in 2007, when Copperfield was accused of raping a 23-year-old model during a stay—an investigation which was later dropped.

Nefarious allegations aside, the tropical getaway serves as a millionaires’ playground and a celebrity haven. It has hosted the weddings of both Google co-founder Sergey Brin and Penelope Cruz’s nuptials to Javier Bardem, while the likes of Tyler Perry, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, and Johnny Depp are all rumored to have spent time on the lush property. Who can resist a magic-imbued paradise crafted by the greatest illusionist of our time?