Remember Criss Angel? The illusionist, magician, and actor made his name in the 1990s and 2000s with his daring escapades, his TV specials, and his dramatic stage shows. In the process, he built an empire that covers everything from magic kits for kids to bestselling books. He might have been missing from our screens for a few years, but he's not been sat around doing nothing: since 2010, he's been starring in one of the biggest and best-selling shows in Las Vegas. And all that hard work has clearly paid off. According to the latest estimates from celebritynetworth.com, Angel is currently worth a mammoth $50 million. How'd he do it? Prepare to find out.
By the time he was 7 years old, Angel already loved magic. By the time he was 12, he realized he could make his passion pay when he charged $10 a head for his first show. Once high school was over, he decided to say 'no' to university and hit the road instead. Over the next couple of years, he toured extensively with other traveling performance acts, honing his skills and developing his trademark style. By the mid-1990s, Angel was primed for the big time. His first opportunity came on the 1997 television movie 'The Science of Magic.' In 2001, he starred in the off-Broadway show, 'Criss Angel Mindfreak.' it eventually ended up running for 600 performances and forming the basis for his first television special, 'Criss Angel Mindfreak: Postmodern illusionist.' Further TV specials followed, and by the mid-2000s, Angel was riding high on a crest of a wave that was returning $50,000 a day just in merchandise.
In 2005, he landed his own series with 'Criss Angel Mindfreak.' After premiering on July 20, 2005, the show ran for 96 episodes until 2010, becoming one of the most-watched TV shows in Asia in the process. In addition to his own TV specials, Angel has also made regular guest appearances on the likes of 'The Oprah Winfrey Show,' 'The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,' 'WWE RAW,' 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show,' 'Jimmy Kimmel Live!' 'The Megan Mullally Show,' and 'Larry King Live.' He's also dabbled in acting, with some of his most notable performances coming in the feature film 'The Incredible Burt Wonderstone' and the television shows 'CSI: NY', 'Las Vegas' and 'Rules of Engagement.
While TV may have made Angel a household name, it's his stage shows that have kept him one. In 2006, he partnered with Cirque du Soleil to create the stage show 'Criss Angel Believe.' Financial backing to the tune of $100 million came by way of MGM Mirage. Despite premiering to harsh reviews (The La Times said it lacked the courage of its convictions while Las Vegas Review-Journal called it "unbelievably bad, sad"), Angel still managed to make a killing, earning over $5 million in advance sales alone. Over the years, he's worked to modify the show to suit a wider palette. By 2011, the Toronto Star was describing it as the most "exciting thing now on stage in Vegas!" and Angel was attracting $150 million in ticket sales. By 2013, it was the best-selling magic show in Vegas. The show continued to run all the way to April 2016, at which point it was replaced by 'Criss Angel Mindfreak Live.'
Criss Angel's flashy style might not be to everyone's taste, but it's managed to wow enough crowds and enough award juries to earn the showman a heap of awards. In addition to winning the International Magician Society's Magician of the Year award in 2001, 2004, 2005, 2007, and 2008, Angel has been awarded the title of "Magician of the Decade" and "Magician of the Century", along with the Louie Award for outstanding achievement in the art of magic. He's the youngest ever inductee to the International Magician Society's Magic Hall of Fame, the only person to win the title of Merlin Magician of the Year on more than one occasion, and, to top it off, one of the few magicians to earn their very own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Magic Kits and Merch
Live shows are one thing. TV is another. But any magician with an ounce of sense knows that the real money in the merch. Angel has always been a savvy businessman, even in the very early days. Back in 2005, he was pulling in around $50,000 a day in merchandise. Since he teamed up with IdeaVillage in 2010 to create the Criss Angel Magic Collection, he's been raking in the millions selling tricks, magic kits, and 'Mindfreak Magic Tricks instructions' to kids.
Best Selling Author
In 2007, Angel proved he could write just as well as he could perform when he released 'Mindfreak: Secret Revelations.' The page tuner gave fans a rare insight into the early days of his career, his rise to fame, and his reflections on becoming one of the best-known magicians of all time. It also went some way to breaking the magician's code by providing step-by-step instructions for 40 of his most popular 'mindfreaks.' The memoir went down a storm, rising to the top of bestselling charts and earning a mention on the Los Angeles Times bestseller list of 2007.
Angel came to fame at the dawn of the internet age, and he hasn't been slow to capitalize on the power of the world wide web. Clips such as 'Walk on Water' and 'Rip Bodies Apart' have helped make him the most-watched magician in Internet history, with over 200 million views to his name in total.
In 2016, Bloomberg reported that Angel was generating about $70 million a year via his partnership with Cirque du Soliel and his other ventures, including television, foreign rights to his shows, roadshows, magic kits and other merchandise, and sponsorships. Clearly, Angel has become more than just a work-a-day magician. By taking every opportunity available to him, whether that's appearing in ads, reading minds on The Oprah Winfrey Show, or escaping from dynamite laden buildings, he's become a conglomerate. With a diverse, far-reaching empire that extends way beyond the imagination of most performers, he's as much of a brand as he is a magician... which may just explain that line-up of Rolls-Royces in his driveway.
Written by Allen Lee
Read more posts by Allen Lee