Tommy Wonder’s Stage Act on eBay

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Postby Dick Koornwinder » 10/20/09 07:59 PM

Frank Bemelman , one of the brothers of Tommy Wonder, has also listed the stage act of Tommy on eBay: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?Vi ... K:MEWAX:IT

If you dont have the intention to bid spread than the news of this auction!

The other Tommy Wonder items you can find at: http://shop.ebay.com/franktechniek/m.ht ... ksid=p4340

I wish that especially the sculpture and the act will find a new home in a wonderful collection!

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/21/09 04:01 PM

I can't believe that Tommy's entire stage act is for sale on eBay. How sad. I also think it's a mistake to simply sell it to the highest bidder. It should be sold to someone who really cares about it and will possibly perform it--not someone who will just keep it in boxes.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 10/21/09 06:20 PM

I have mixed emotions about this.

First, who could possibly duplicate Tommy Wonders act? (Whoin their right mindwould want to?)

Wouldnt this collection of items be better off preserved in a collection instead of hitting the road again? (Im asking these questions, not posing my opinion in the form of questions.)

And if the latter, the next question is the old conundrum of the collector: Who has the right (for lack of a better word) to justify being the person who takes claim to this unique set of artifacts? The guy with the most money in this case?

Now for my opinion: Since Tommy Wonders act has been captured on video so future generations can enjoy seeing the equipment in use, Im not sure anyone else needs to use it in their act. I believe this equipment should somehow be preserved for future magicians to see, but since magic does not have a wing in the Smithsonianmaybe it shouldthat means a private collection. And as all collectors know, their job as caretakers of this level of historic memorabilia is nothing more than a temp job.

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Postby Tom Stone » 10/21/09 06:30 PM

Richard Kaufman wrote:I can't believe that Tommy's entire stage act is for sale on eBay. How sad. I also think it's a mistake to simply sell it to the highest bidder. It should be sold to someone who really cares about it and will possibly perform it--not someone who will just keep it in boxes.

I discussed the act with Frank earlier this year, and while this is sad in some ways, I am also convinced that there is no other realistic option.

And to perform the act... Well, Tommy believed firmly in his "Three Pillars" theory, and this act is a testament to that. The choreographic mix of misdirection, sleight of hand and gimmicks is nothing for the faint of heart, especially since the act haven't been explained. For example, I think that I could be able to perform all the sequences in the act, technically (but far below an artistic level) - but that required a lot of study and examination of videos. More time than anyone would have the stamina for, other than single-minded buffoons like myself.

Earlier in the spring, in a correspondance with Frank, I hypothesized about the possiblity of documenting the whole act in a book-dvd combo. A nice idea, but there are no way for me to finance a project like that.
Other ideas has been discussed as well, with little success.
So, I fully understand, and support, Frank's decision here.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/21/09 07:05 PM

If Tommy Wonder's act is viewed as a play, which it is, then there is no reason another actor could not take the lead role. It would not be exactly the same play in which Tommy starred, but it could be equally good. This has been happening in the theater for many hundreds of years.
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Postby Jim Riser » 10/21/09 09:00 PM

I support the sale of the complete act in one lot. To split up the parts and for them to land in various collections would be a crime against magic. At least now a buyer would have a chance to reproduce the act either as a play as Richard indicated above or as a revision of the act that fits the new owners' style. There is real opportunity for the purchaser here. I'd rather see the act kept alive by a competent performer than for it to merely be hidden away in a private collection but money will decide the final fate of Tommy Wonder's genius.

I really would like to see Todd Karr jump on the DVD/book project in cooperation with Tom Stone and brother Frank before this gem is potentially lost to history.

Todd, are you there?
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/21/09 09:03 PM

The only person who really has any business doing a book/DVD project is Stephen Minch, who co-wrote the Books of Wonder and understands Tommy, his thinking, and his magic in a way few others do.

It's all idle speculation anyway since the act will sell to someone, for better or worse, in a few days.
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Postby absoulute » 10/21/09 09:26 PM

Did Stephen have plans to write another book of Tommy's Magic? The books of wonder are incredible and Stephen is perhaps the best writer in all of magic, present company accepted of course.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/21/09 11:29 PM

I don't think Tommy ever had any intention of explaining his stage act while he was actively performing it. Not sure what his intentions were at the end of his life. It would be a shame if it was lost, as so much of magic has been, because the act was brilliant on so many levels. A book should be written about the act in which it is completely detailed, and a DVD included with a performance by Tommy.
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Postby Denis Behr » 10/22/09 05:40 AM

Is Tommy Wonder's stage costume part of the auction? It doesn't look like it is, but it's certainly part of the method for some things. So the act is not really complete?!
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Postby Tom Stone » 10/22/09 07:11 AM

Denis Behr wrote:Is Tommy Wonder's stage costume part of the auction?

I've just asked, and Frank replied:
The costume is not included. Inside the costume are no mechanics, only attachement points. After a performance, Jos always took out the mechanical bits and pieces, and stored it inside the box with the chest and cage.

I'm pretty sure that if the buyer find anything unclear, Frank will provide info and photos on where the attachment points are located.

Edit: Hold on for a little while. The info above might be adjusted.
Last edited by Tom Stone on 10/22/09 07:39 AM, edited 0 times in total.
Reason: New info
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Postby Tom Stone » 10/22/09 08:36 AM

Tom Stone wrote:Edit: Hold on for a little while. The info above might be adjusted.

The costume is included in the auction now, and the eBay page will be updated with photos of it.
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Postby Denis Behr » 10/22/09 08:48 AM

That's great, thanks for inquiring. It is part of the act, I think.
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Postby Marco Pusterla » 10/22/09 10:54 AM

What about the big table, the one used for the cups and balls sequence? From what I understand, the table is also necessary for a couple of sequences, but I can't understand whether it's included in the auction...

Many thanks!
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Postby Tom Stone » 10/22/09 10:59 AM

Marco Pusterla wrote:What about the big table

That table is included, and takes most of the place in the longer narrow case, shown in the photo. :)
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Postby Marco Pusterla » 10/22/09 11:43 AM

Tom Stone wrote:
Marco Pusterla wrote:What about the big table

That table is included, and takes most of the place in the longer narrow case, shown in the photo. :)


Many thanks, but are you sure? It may be me, but I see just the legs of the table for the cage and its body (the green bits). Is the big table the white bit in the middle? Sorry to be a pain... :confused:
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/22/09 06:21 PM

Anyone want to guess what this will sell for? Three days to go, and it's currently at $8,600.

My prediction: $25,000 to $50,000.
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Postby mrgoat » 10/22/09 06:28 PM

$67,973

Do I get a prize if I'm closest?
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/22/09 06:40 PM

You get NOTHING other than the satisfaction of being right.
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Postby jason156 » 10/22/09 06:52 PM

My guess is 12,000 to 15,000........
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Postby Tom Stone » 10/22/09 07:05 PM

Marco Pusterla wrote:
Tom Stone wrote:Many thanks, but are you sure?

I am sure. :)
The whole table packs down easily into the narrow case. It was designed for easy transport.
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Postby IrishMagicNews » 10/22/09 07:34 PM

Richard Kaufman wrote:Anyone want to guess what this will sell for? Three days to go, and it's currently at $8,600.

My prediction: $25,000 to $50,000.


I am not a collector by any means and would have no idea how much it will go for. I guess it really depends on if there are two or more parties who really really want it and more importantly have deep enough pockets.

I am sure there are very close friends of Tommy's who would dearly love to have this but monetary demands dictate otherwise.

Which leads me to a general question. When something like this comes up are there really only a few wealthy collectors in with a chance, someone like DC for example. I have heard stories of his extra ordinary generosity torwards people who have in their posession something he wants for his own collection.

You may all tell me to mind my own if you like but it would be interesting to hear your comments.

I hope this piece ends up in the right hands.

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/23/09 01:28 PM

Considering that you are purchasing a nearly perfect act in its entirety, $25,000 is not a lot for a working professional considering what one would have to go through to create such an act and pay for all the mechanical items to be created and built. If the person who buys it performs it, whatever he or she pays it will be money well spent.
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Postby Mike Carr » 10/23/09 02:02 PM

$112,358.13
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Postby NCMarsh » 10/23/09 03:28 PM

I don't think there's a "right" answer for what to do with the act. Sure, in an abstract way it would be nice to see it live on in performance, but I pity the guy who picks up that gauntlet. It's like being told "here's Michelangelo's chisel, and here's a sculpture he worked on for his entire professional life, show us what you can do with it."

Tommy's work was so far ahead of its time that many of us didn't know what to do with it -- with Vernon, you weren't going to be Vernon but you could at least apply his approach to magic to your own work or, failing that, at least perform it. Tommy's work appeared to be on such a different plane that the easiest response was to deify him.

For that reason there are many who take Tommy's legacy so personally (the first two questions to the seller on the eBay listing are from a guy passionately cursing Frank out for selling the props) that if one guy buys the act and that guy does it, he'll probably need a thick skin. He's playing with their messiah's props.

I wouldn't mind seeing it end up somewhere like the Magic Circle. It isn't his act, you can't put that in a box, but it is a physical connection to a master and I would love to see it preserved as part of our shared heritage and a sign of our respect for him and his work.

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Postby erdnasephile » 10/23/09 03:57 PM

With respect to all, IMHO, I think what is important here is "What did Mr. Wonder want done with his props?"

It was reported that before his untimely passing, Mr. Wonder made certain to pass along some personal items to particular persons. If this is true, then had he wished to pass along his treasured stage props to a successor to his act or to a given collector/entity, perhaps he would have made arrangements to do so.

Having said that, presumably those most likely to know Mr. Wonder's wishes in the matter are his family (and maybe his closest friends). Therefore, it's quite possible that this is exactly what Mr. Wonder desired for his personal effects--the money raised could go towards helping those he left behind or some other purpose he favored.

One thing is for certain--our admittedly selfish desires count the least in what is ultimately a personal matter.
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Postby NCMarsh » 10/23/09 05:32 PM

After reading erdnasephile's comments I realized I should clarify my own. In saying that I would love to see them "end up" at the Circle I'm not saying anything about the eBay auction -- which is appropriate -- I'm only discussing an option for what the winner of that auction may do with the props; either in the immediate future or through her/his will.

Museum collections frequently grow in this way -- a private collector purchases the item at auction and it is then donated to the institution. I hope the purchaser here considers this option.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 10/23/09 06:04 PM

If someone wants to win the auction on ebaY then donate the item - up to them. If the Magic Circle wanted to acquire the item it could have acted before and still can act. Maybe it will wind up at the Conjuring Arts Center or in David Copperfield's warehouse?

I hope the estate (Frank et al) gets a great price for the item.
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Postby NCMarsh » 10/23/09 06:17 PM

Jonathan Townsend wrote:
I hope the estate (Frank et al) gets a great price for the item.


Seconded.
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Postby Paulie » 10/23/09 07:38 PM

Firstly, I believe that I'm correct in assuming that no one would ever perform this act using Tommy's jacket, boots or trousers, after all, comparisons ARE odious. If you disagree with that then let it be for another discussion. Suffice to say that to sell the complete lot for performance purposes would IMO be detrimental to the preservation of magical history and Tommy's wonderful (no pun intended) handy-work, being a big part of that, deserves better.

I therefore suggest and hope that this will be bought by a serious collector.
If so, then how is he going to know if anything is missing?. The component parts of a Martin cage set up, for example, are well known,and they can demand high prices when complete despite their being relatively mass produced.

This however is UNIQUE.

As RK said, "I don't think Tommy ever had any intention of explaining his stage act while he was actively performing it".

It doesn't come with instructions and the documented photographs are .........

The devices used are very specific and the collector has a right to know that 'the set is complete', that's how collectors think, it's their essence.

"I own Tommy Wonder's Act", or, I've probably own MOST of Tommy Wonder's act" are different and must affect price.

Maybe Tom Stone can verify it?

He states, "I think that I could be able to perform all the sequences in the act, technically", does this imply knowledge not only of the genre of devices but of Tommy's proprietary components necessary to "technically" execute the act as known?. Did Tommy show you the actual component workings Tom?

This is of importance to the serious collector and he will pay more for that knowledge.

If however purchased by an intelligent performer then he, knowing of the device 'type' being used, can functionally emulate its construction and this is therefore of lesser importance to him.

Frank, in the 'ad' says, "I BELIEVE the act is complete, as it has never been unpacked after the last performance. I am not going to unpack it, because I do not want to damage things unintentionally. Could well be that a rubberband has snapped or flat batteries and what have you. NO guarantees whatsoever."

To conclude, I genuinely feel that the sale of such an important and valuable piece of contemporary magical history should have been more carefully planned and thought out to guarantee the buyer, whatever his motives, of a more comfortable sale. It is in my opinion a shame to see it sold in this expedient manner. A great shame.
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Postby absoulute » 10/23/09 08:42 PM

It is insane that people have been writing into Frank's eBay account cussing him out for selling this stuff! There is also indications that some of these same people have created a new account and are bidding to try and possibly prevent a legit buyer from winning the auction. This is incredibly shameful and I hope eBay is made aware that people are doing this.
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Postby Tom Stone » 10/23/09 08:48 PM

Paulie wrote:Maybe Tom Stone can verify it?


I believe that Dick Koornwinder are in a better position than me to speak with confidence on that matter. I only know that everything mechanical and tangible went into the cases after a performance (the props, but not the misdirection or the sleights).

He states, "I think that I could be able to perform all the sequences in the act, technically", does this imply knowledge not only of the genre of devices but of Tommy's proprietary components necessary to "technically" execute the act as known?. Did Tommy show you the actual component workings Tom?

No. He once offered to show me the Cups and Balls sequence, but I prefered to work it out myself. Just as he prefered not to learn the methods in my "Tracking Mr. Fogg" after he had been taken in by it.
But there's more details about the act hidden in The Books of Wonder, then what it might seem at a casual glance. The only really tricky part for the buyer is to reconstruct the Cups and Balls routine up until the final loads.
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Postby Tom Stone » 10/23/09 08:55 PM

absoulute wrote:There is also indications that some of these same people have created a new account and are bidding to try and possibly prevent a legit buyer from winning the auction.

No, that is not the case. All the bids have come from serious people.
One of the bidders, though, are new to eBay, but has been recognized as a honest and serious bidder.
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Postby Tom Stone » 10/26/09 09:16 AM

30 minutes left...
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Postby Tom Stone » 10/26/09 10:05 AM

And it went for US $16,101
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/26/09 11:17 AM

Someone got a bargain.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 10/26/09 11:27 AM

Had a Hammacher Schlemmer type waking nightmare... hope it's not gonna be someone's Halloween costume or a youngster's magic kit gift.
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