LA’s Magic Castle to get a new, protective-minded owner

In an attempt to preserve the historic Magic Castle in Hollywood, video game mogul Randy Pitchford buys the famous house of the Academy of Magical Arts.

The acquisition, which is expected to be completed by the end of the month, will ensure that the main property in the center of the tourist district is the academy’s clubhouse and performance space, Pitchford said. The price has not been announced yet.

Pitchford is best known as the founder of Gearbox Entertainment, which created the popular Borderlands rights to video games. He has been a magician all his life and is also a member of the Academy at the Magic Castle, where he learned the tricks of the trade.

“Everything I knew about entertainment started at Magic Castle,” said Pitchford, whose magic specialty is subtle. “I feel like I owe my career to the Magic Castle.”

Inside the Magic Castle in Hollywood. Built in 1908 by Edwardian Manor with French and Gothic elements, it was built by Redland financier and orange farmer Rollin Lane and his wife Catherine.

(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

The sale comes a year after the floor company was shocked by the misconduct allegations described in the Los Angeles Times investigation. In interviews with The Times, 12 people – including guests and former staff – accused Magic Castle management, staff, artists and members of the academy of sexual harassment, sexual harassment and abuse that included discrimination on the basis of race or gender.

Randy Sinnott Jr., Board Chairman of the Academy at the time, responded with a statement: “The Academy of Magical Arts and its Board work to provide a safe and welcoming environment and experience …

“All claims brought to the attention of the board or management are considered serious and professional,” Sinnote said.

The Magic Castle on Franklin Avenue in Hollywood is a well-known Edwardian manor built in 1908 by Redland financier and orange grower Rowlin Lane and his wife Catherine. In the 1960s, it became the maze of small apartment buildings.

1961 Thomas O. Pitchford buys Magic Castle from the Clover family, who have owned the property since Clover bought the house and land. In the same year, the clover building was leased to William “Bill” Larson Jr., Irene Larson and Milt Larson, who all started Magic Castle.

Clover and Larson, a television writer and magician, turned it into a clubhouse for witches. It still serves as the headquarters of the Academy of Magical Arts, with thousands of witches and enthusiasts dedicated to preserving celebration and art performances.

Visitors receive an invitation from an academy member to dine, drink and perform magic at the castle. The invitation has a strict dress code: “If in doubt, make the mistake of wearing too much clothing.”

The academy, a non-profit public benefit organization, has become a for-profit organization: in 2019, it earned $ 21 million in revenue and $ 1.39 million in net income, according to its annual report.

The 2020 epidemic spell was broken as the fort closed during widespread trade locks. Plans for the academy to one day buy property from its landowner, the Clover family, began to fall apart.

Pitchford, the grandson of Richard Valentine Pitchford, a 20th-century master magician known as the Great Courtini, “quickly nests his nest,” the academy said. The stadium reopened, but the academy’s dream of buying a property had not been realized for at least several years.

Sales of Magic Castle are coming up slightly after a year shaken by allegations of misconduct.

The sale of Magic Castle comes more than a year after the floor company was shocked by allegations of misconduct, including sexual harassment.

(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

Meanwhile, real estate developers approached the Clover family, hoping to secure 3 acres of land to build a house and possibly a hotel. The lease of the witches in the castle was doubtful, even though it was a historical landmark.

Pitchford, who married his wife Christie on a platform in the castle, went down to buy the property. He refused to release the price until after the sale. The deal includes the Magic Gas Hotel, a casual hotel located on the site that attracts tourists.

Pitchford also declined to talk about his extensive plans for the property, which will be run by Erica Larson, daughter of founders Bill and Irene Larson. The academy will remain the lessee.

“I expect there will be investment in all assets,” Pitchford said. “There’s a chance there will be led by Erica.”

Co-dealer West McDonough said he had mixed feelings about splitting the property as he went to the castle and grew up watching magical acts with his grandfather Thomas Clover. “I got calls at all the shows. Magic Castle was my community.

The historic Magic Castle and the Magic Castle Hotel have been sold to technology tycoon and magician Randy Pitchford.

The historic Magic Castle and Magic Castle Hotel, center left, was purchased by Randy Pitchford from the Clover family, who have owned the property since 1961.

(Google Earth)

It’s time to sell, however, said McDonough, who married the “Grand Master of Illusions” magician Jonathan Pentragon.

“Like any family business that has been declining for generations, we are coming down to a place where it is spread by a lot of people with their own priorities and agendas,” he said.

McDonough supports Pitchford’s vision for the property and is willing to give it up, he said.

“I’m totally happy because I don’t have to worry about whether it’s safe and what the future holds.”

Founder Thomas Clover had a son, also known as Thomas, who was another member of the family who owned the nearby Yamashiro restaurant before selling it in 2016. He is now ready to leave the Magic Castle.

“We’ve had hundreds of offers over the years, but Randy is a very special person as far as the castle is concerned,” he said. “Randy has the means and the attitude to preserve its heritage.”

Support statements for the sale were also made by renowned magicians David Copperfield and Ben Gillette, who praised Pitchford.

“All the Magic community appreciates Randy and is excited about the new era of Magic Castle,” said Gillette, the taller half of Ben & Teller. “Now I can come in without a tie because I know Randy.”

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