David Merlini

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David Merlini is a Hungarian escape artist. He was born in Budapest in 1978, October. He is known for his unique performances written, designed, directed, and performed by himself. David Merlini currently lives in Monte Carlo.

David Merlini photo by: Attila Ibos

Fast Facts[edit]

Has performed several high-tech stunts such as being launched along with a SCUD missile, embedded in a block of solid concrete then thrown in a river, or frozen with liquid nitrogen. Awarded Best Escape Artist at the World Magic Awards 2007 in Los Angeles, and holder of several World Records for holding his breath while underwater. David Merlini's live TV shows broke all current ratings records in 2004 and 2005.

Early beginnings[edit]

After moving back from Italy, where he grew up, he performed his first great escape at only 16, in 1995, at the Island’95 Festival. David is strapped into a straitjacket, then hanged upside down under a rope at 30 ft of height. The rope is set alight. David is free in less than 100 seconds, descending to the huge stage with a second rescue cord in the crossfire of robotic lights, and the cameras of the Hungarian National TV.

1996. David was welded in a steel perforated box, after being chained and padlocked. The box was lowered into the Danube, and David had freed himself within 3 minutes.

1997. David was handcuffed by five sets of regular police handcuffs, locked with 60 pounds of chains, then padlocked in a metal cage he was lowered into a transparent tank of water, which top was locked with a by a glass top. David is free again.

1998. David is handcuffed to the steering wheel of a Mercedes 500, the doors are welded shut, the car is set alight and lifted up to 100 ft. The car fell at a specific part of the stunt, crashing and exploding on the ground. Later that year, David is strapped into a straitjacket, then lifted upside down under a speeding helicopter at 1000 ft. The rope is connected to timed explosives. David escapes both unharmed.

2000. Strapped in a special underwater straitjacket, David's ankles are secured by handcuffs, padlocks and massive lead weights. He jumps into the huge transparent tank of water along with six tiger sharks. David is free within 2:30 minutes.

The New Generation Performances[edit]

2001. Wearing only a straitjacket, David is placed into a tank of water and locked in a refrigerator cell at –38.3 Fahrenheit. During the 33 hours of the stunt David freezes completely in ice. In front of a live crowd, he is unfrozen with blowtorches by his crew.

2002. David jumped handcuffed and bound by a straitjacket into the North Sea (the world’s coldest), reaching 160 ft underwater.

2003. David is handcuffed upside down to a metal cross, then submerged in a special glass tank.

2004. Encased up to his neck in 3.5 tons of concrete, David was lowered into the ice cold Danube river.

2005. Launched along with the largest non-governmental, non-military rocket ever built in history. He escapes before the explosion at 10.000 feet, parachuting.

2006. Merlini's first autobiographical book is released in stores, entitled Szabadíts Ki! (Free Me!).

2007. Merlini breaks the world record for the longest underwater escape ever, emerging free after escaping several sets of handcuffs and chains. He spends a dizzying time of 10 minutes and 17 seconds submerged. No pure oxygen was inhaled before the performance.

David Merlini is awarded Best Escape Artist at the World Magic Awards 2007 in Los Angeles, after being frozen instantly with more than 300 gallons of liquid nitrogen.

2008 Breaks the World Record for being submerged underwater without breathing in Cannes, in front of official judges of Guinness World Records and a live audience.

2009 Breaks the world record for holding his breath underwater at the starting line of the Sakhir Circuit at the 2009 Formula One Bahrain GP. The new record now stands at 21 minutes, 29 seconds.

2011 China, Hunan province, Baofeng lake. Breaks World Record for Breathholding in the lake with 20:55. http://english.people.com.cn/90001/90783/7380073.html

2012 Officially introduces a new genre of performance. Can You Kill Merlini? - A new television format focused on real escapes from restraints and devices built by the audience at home.

2013 Designs magic and escapes as the special consultant for Houdini, a two night television series released worldwide.

2014 Presents The Witch Burn the most dangerous escape up to date from a burning stake.


Hyberna 2001 - David Merlini froze in ice on the 29th of September 2001 in Budapest, Heroe's Square.

Hyberna 2001 - David Merlini defrosted on the 30th of September 2001 in Budapest, Heroes' Square, after spending 33 hours in ice link title

The Breakthrough - report at magicweek from the giant event in 2004

Article about the World Record at Daily Mail

Article at Yeinjee about the World Record Underwater

The Countdown - Article at Budapestsun

World Magic Awards on the net

David Merlini on imdb

Other links[edit]