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April 19, 2014

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Criss Angel sued over alleged unpaid royalties

Beyond the Sun

A 23-year-old illusionist and inventor is suing “Believe” star Criss Angel, alleging Angel failed to pay an agreed amount for products used in Angel’s “Mindfreak” show and DVD.

Jabob Spinney claims in his eight-count lawsuit that in January 2005 he assigned the rights of certain illusions, including Spinney’s Chair Self-Levitation, Chair Self-Suspension and Fork Bending Gimmick, to Angel Productions Inc. in exchange for 25 percent of profits.

Shortly after, Angel performed Spinney’s Chair Self-Levitation illusion on an episode of “Mindfreak.” The episode was later included on four “Mindfreak” DVD sets and Angel’s “Masterminds Volume 2: Self Levitation” DVD, which retailed for $100 and grossed more than $190,000 in revenue in the first six months, according to the lawsuit.

Spinney claims he was not paid royalties from the “Mindfreak” DVD sets and received only a small portion from the “Mastermind” DVD set. Spinney received $26,000 of the estimated $267,000 the “Mastermind” DVD made in gross sales, the lawsuit indicated.

The lawsuit also said Angel deducted $25,000 from the first of three payments to Spinney for “Angel Production Inc. Creative/Production Recoupable” costs. The charge was defined as Criss Angel’s performance fee. Spinney has not received any royalty payments since May 2007 and was told in December 2007 that he was not entitled to further royalties, according to the lawsuit.

Spinney is asking for monetary compensation and for all rights to be returned on his Chair Self-Suspension and Fork Bending Gimmick.

In a phone call today, a representative for Criss Angel declined comment about the suit. Angel himself is in Mammoth, Calif., shooting an illusion for Season 5 of “Mindfreak” and unavailable for comment.

Sun reporter John Katsilometes contributed to this report.

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