Magician and inventor Jacob Spinney filed suit against Criss Angel on June 8, 2009 claiming Mr. Angel renigned on a promise to pay for rights to Spinney’s Chair Self-Levitation, Spinney’s Chair Self-Suspension and Spinney’s Fork-Bending gimmicks.
You can download a copy of the complaint from Inside Magic here.
Mr. Spinney filed his eight-count complaint against Criss Angel in Nassau County, New York, home of Angel Productions, Incorporated.
According to the complaint, in 2004, Mr. Angel asked Murphy’s Magic Supplies for “illusions or magical effects” to be used in this upcoming MindFreak television series.
Murphy’s referred Criss Angel to teenage inventor Jacob Spinney. The two spoke, and Angel offered Spinney a position as “Magic Consultant” on the upcoming series.
Angel was specifically interested in three of Mr. Spinney’s inventions: “Jacob Spinney’s Chair Self-Levitation,” “Jacob Spinney’s Chair Self-Suspension,” and “Jacob Spinney’s Fork Bending Gimmick.”
Mr. Spinney was to receive 25 percent (less deductions) of Angel’s net profit from the sale of any consumer version of the products he might sell.
The complaint claims Mr. Spinney’s Chair Self-Levitation was a hit on the second episode of MindFreak’s 2005 season.
Angel then marketed the Chair Self-Levitation with instructions on how to build the illusion for $100.00.
According to Mr. Spinney’s complaint, the illusion kit generated more than $250,000 in gross sales. Mr. Spinney’s 25 percent royalty was subject to a fee Angel charged for performing the effect.
After three royalty payments, Angel’s accounting firm told Spinney he was not entitled to any further royalties.
To add insult to injury, Angel never marketed the other two effects but did require Mr. Spinney to keep them off the market.
Angel allegedly claimed the contract blocks Mr. Spinney’s ability to market the illusions on his own. Mr. Spinney is asking for the rights to be returned to him and for monetary damages.
Mr. Spinney may be just 19 years-old, but his legal team packs some major clout. Kirkland and Ellis of New York City represents Mr. Spinney in the action. This is the big time powerhouse of litigation firms today.
We will keep you apprised as the case moves forward.
Spinney is represented by Christine Willgoos with Kirkland and Ellis of New York, N.Y.
You can read coverage of the lawsuit’s filing here: Courthouse News Service.