Sunday, June 5, 2011 | 3:40 a.m.
When master illusionist David Copperfield isn’t creating magic spectacles at his secret Las Vegas warehouse and memorabilia museum for his shows at MGM Grand, he can be found at his super-exclusive hideaway island in the Bahamas. It took him 20 years of producing TV specials and touring the world to create the biggest challenge of his life: paradise!
David’s 150-acre main island at Musha Cay in Copperfield Bay includes 700 other acres of out islands and 40 sugary sand beaches. As he told us in Part 1 of our exclusive interview last week, “When I acquired these islands a few years ago, I made a personal commitment to transform an already perfect place into the most magical vacation destination in the world. Everything truly magical that I’ve ever experienced, everything that has created wonder for me has been re-created at the Islands of Copperfield Bay.”
David discovered the incredible islands magically, too: He’d visited the Gaza Pyramids in Egypt, the statues of Easter Island, the Sun Pyramid in Mexico and England’s Stonehenge (which baffled me growing up there because there’s absolutely no logical explanation for it). David connected their locations with two lines drawn around the globe, and at the exact center where they crossed, he located Musha Cay and purchased it in 2006. Since then, insiders say he’s since spent more than $50 million more making it a magical kingdom 85 miles southeast of Nassau.
I like to think that when David spent a week on the private Jumby Bay Island in Antigua with German supermodel Claudia Schiffer and visited my home there that he became intrigued with island living. The then romantic couple came for dinner, and David spent the entire time grilling me about island experiences.
David is notoriously closed-mouthed about his guests, but my New York travel spies tell me that the celebrities who have stayed at the amazing resort include Oprah Winfrey , Bill Gates and John Travolta. It’s been reported that Google co-founder Sergey Brin was married there, and on another occasion, Oscar-winning actress Penelope Cruz arrived there on a jet ski wearing a wedding dress. They booked the entire resort that hosts 24 people for $37,500 per night.
There are five guesthouses on Musha Cay each with its own private beach. The main 10,000-square-foot home is furnished with antiques and exotic treasures that David collected on his world travels. The open-air oceanfront pavilion for outdoor dining is 2,200 square feet and includes Dave’s Drive-In movie theater and a Houdini Room that features the escapologist’s billiards table. In addition to yachting, jet boats, snorkeling, swimming and sailboats, there’s a world-class chef and a gym on one beach, plus three treasure hunts that guests can play.
The 3-mile-long sandbar is called Heaven on Earth. David constructed a Secret Village on the island as a 3-acre monkey preserve with an Indiana Jones theme that permits guests to walk through their own magic illusions in secret passageways guarded by monkeys from South America. A winding staircase hidden behind a statue leads to an underground tunnel to emerge into an enchanted world. He believes it could be the home of the long-sought Fountain of Youth.
“I am really 82,” he laughed. “It is probably the most beautiful place I have ever seen. Astronauts were asked from above what was the most beautiful spot, the most beautiful water, and they all agreed this specific spot in the Atlantic Ocean, the Bahamas. I discovered Musha Cay and the islands around it in the Exumas. I found it by connecting lines between magical places on Earth, and those four lines intersect at a specific spot in the ocean. And it so happens that is where my islands are.
“We are not really sure yet about the Fountain of Youth, but we found this liquid that in its simple stages can actually do miraculous things -- brown leaves turn green. 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. We still have no concrete evidence on its effect on humans, but we’re working on it. I want to get it all right before I take it onto the next step. That is on one of the islands. Another island is the resort available for charter. People can rent the whole island for 24 people at once. It is really spectacular.
“But Vegas is really my first home. I am a Nevada resident and happy to be here, but the islands are amazing -- just incredible. It was painful for me having spent two years working on illusions to see crappy versions suddenly appear on television. Years of my time became kind of homogenized. I became unmotivated to do new things, so I decided I was going to do a different palette for a little while, and that’s why this whole island thing.
“I focused on learning a new business and putting what I’d do into that business. The island is like every single Robin Leach show that you’ve ever done. Everywhere you look is like all of your shows. In fact, a recent visitor told me that the island is one part James Bond, one part Blue Lagoon and one part Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous. It is the playground for people who have seen it all, a billionaire playground.
If you go to MushaCay.com, you won’t believe it. (You also can follow David on Twitter @D_Copperfield). So far, I’ve spent five years of my life on it, and I have all these other plans. You know me, so I can’t say it’s finished or if it ever will be finished. It is like Disneyland but without the theme park. I’ve got 20 other dreams for it that would be incredible.”
I had to ask David what is the magic of magic, and he told me: “It is a need. We all possess the need to dream. Einstein talks about it, Mark Twain talks about it. Dreams are illusions, and we can’t let go of them because we would be dead. That is why we go to the movies. We want to think about another world. Magic is the simplest kind of primal escape form. We take Mother Nature and turn it upside down to be able to dream about something that doesn’t really exist. That is what draws us to it, and that is what makes me want to do more and more of it because it allows me to take people on an amazing journey, and that is what I try to do.”
He summed up: “Life is good. I have lots of exciting stuff going on, and I’m working on so many things. I’ll keep you informed -- and, who knows, maybe if we do discover that Fountain of Youth, I’ll become the world’s first 150-year-old magician.”
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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