Wave Staff and Wire Report
HOLLYWOOD — The exclusive Magic Castle, home to the Academy of Magical Arts and one of Los Angeles’ most storied landmarks, is getting a new owner, with the founder of video-game maker Gearbox Entertainment announcing his purchase of the Franklin Avenue manor April 11.
An avid magician himself and longtime member of the Academy of Magical Arts and Magic Castle attendee, Randy Pitchford said he is dedicated to the preservation of the 1908-vintage building.
“The Magic Castle is like bedrock — the center point of magic,” Pitchford said in a statement announcing his purchase of the property. “The people who think of the castle as their home and the place itself seem to have magical properties that have created and inspired some of the world’s greatest entertainers.
“I’m proud to be trusted to both give back to the place that made me to become the custodian of the Magic Castle and to work with its members and the Larsen family to ensure our most incredible club house grows and thrives for decades to come.”
The Larsen family has operated the Magic Castle since the 1960s, leasing the home from owner Thomas O. Glover and turning it into an exclusive clubhouse for magicians.
“Randy Pitchford has done something extraordinary to protect our beloved Magic Castle and I could not be happier about our current situation as well as the prospects for the future,” Magic Castle co-founder Milt Larsen said in a statement. “Randy really understands and appreciates my vision and the Larsen family vision and there is no one better to carry on what we started in 1963.”
A purchase price for the property was not revealed. Erika Larsen, daughter of castle co-founders Bill and Irene Larsen, will continue to operate the exclusive club — which is open only to Academy of Magical Arts members and their invited guests.
“Randy’s purchase of the Magic Castle brings the heart and soul back to this institution that I have loved and devoted my life to,” Erika Larsen said. “I know my parents would be thrilled with this news.
“Randy’s business acumen, long-standing commitment to magic, and his love for the Magic Castle make him the perfect owner.”
“Randy’s action will assure the Magic Castle will live on another hundred years,” said Gay Blackstone, chairman of the Academy of Magical Arts Board of Trustees. “I am thrilled that the Larsen family legacy and the love of magic enhanced by Randy Pitchford will enable the Magic Castle to continue to thrive and grow forever. It is a magical win-win. Thank you, Randy Pitchford.
The formal announcement of the purchase included statement from some of the biggest names in magic, including David Copperfield, Penn Jillette and Jillette’s partner, Teller.
“Randy’s leadership presents an incredible opportunity for the Magic Castle and its future,” Copperfield, said. “Randy brings to the table an incredible passion for magic and remarkable experience in leading successful businesses. I can’t think of anyone better who can honor the Magic Castle’s history, but ensure it maintains its relevance and positions it for growth for years to come.”
“I’ve known Randy Pitchford for years, and I know he has a day job, but in my mind he’s a magician,” Jillette said. “I believe Randy’s heart is in magic.
“For as long as I’ve known about the Magic Castle it’s been a bit precarious. I always worried about it. Now I don’t need to,” Jillette added. “The Magic Castle, the most important gathering place for magicians, is now in safe and loving hands. I’m relieved and delighted.
“Randy’s professionalism, love for magic, and commitment to entertaining the world are what the Magic Castle needs to propel it forward.”