HOLLYWOOD, LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- The exclusive Magic Castle in Hollywood, 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 Monday his purchase of the Franklin Avenue manor.
An avid magician himself and longtime AMA member 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. 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 AMA 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. I know my parents would be thrilled with this news,'' Erika Larsen said. "Randy's business-acumen, long-standing commitment to magic, and his love for the Magic Castle make him the perfect owner.''
The formal announcement of the purchase included statement's from some of the biggest names in magic, including David Copperfield, Penn Jillette and Jillette's partner, Teller.
"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.
"The Magic Castle, the most important gathering place for magicians, is now in safe and loving hands," Jillette continued. "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.''