|Occupation(s)||escape artist, Director|
David Merlini is a Hungarian-Italian escape artist, and World Record holder, described by Expo 2015 as the world's most famous escapologist, currently serving as Director of The House of Houdini, the only Houdini museum in Europe.
Early life and career
Around the age of 4, Merlini became interested in locks and handcuffs. As a child, he was given a magic trick, which founded his career. Around 13, Merlini attended night school at Turin's Circolo Amici della Magia, an illusionist school. When he was 17, he returned to Hungary, the country he regards as his homeland. Merlini cited Harry Houdini, who had also been born in Hungary, as a major source of inspiration.
Milestones of his career
At Sziget'95 (now called the Sziget Festival), Merlini was strapped in a straitjacket, and was tied to a flaming rope by his feet. His aim was to escape from the rope and descend 20 meters to the platform below with a safety line.
Attempts to recreate Houdini's famed Chinese Water Torture Cell, Handcuffed by five sets of regulation police handcuffs, locked with 60 pounds of chains, and padlocked in a metal cage, Merlini was lowered into a transparent tank of water, live at eurovision television programme Jeux Sans Frontieres.
Handcuffed to the steering wheel of a Mercedes 500, doors are welded shut, the car is set on fire and lifted up to a height of 100 ft. before being released free fall.
Strapped in a special underwater straitjacket, Merlini's ankles are secured by handcuffs, padlocks and massive lead weights. He jumps into the giant transparent tank of water along with six tiger sharks, spending a total of 2 minutes and 30 seconds at a depth of 5 meters.
The New Generation Performances
The stunt named Hyberna sees Merlini strapped in a regulation straitjacket, welded in a steel reinforced glass container filled with water, and set to freeze in a refrigeration cell on Heroe's Square, in Budapest. At the end of the 33 hours process, the one ton ice block is melted with flame throwers. The show is witnessed live by a crowd of more than 10,000 and on live television broadcast.
As part of a live segment for MTV show The Fridge. Strapped in a regulation straitjacket, his ankles are padlocked and handcuffed to lead weights, before jumping in the Baltic Sea in --Karlskrona, Sweden.
As part of the performance named "The Breakthrough", viewed by two million people on live television, and a large crowd on the banks of the river, Merlini was buried up to his neck in 3.5 tons of freshly set concrete after which the concrete cube was lowered by crane to the bottom of the Danube river.
Merlini is locked in a capsule on top of the largest non governmental, non military missile ever built, and launched to an altitude of 6,000 feet from the Shipyard Island (Hajógyári Island), as part of the stunt named The Countdown, witnessed live by a crowd of thousands, and broadcast live by Viasat.
Publishes his first autobiographic book titled "Szabadíts ki!' (Free me!)
Merlini received the "Best Escape Artist" award at the 2007 World Magic Awards in Los Angeles.
Merlini set the breath-holding world record in Cannes, France, at the annual trade show MIPCOM after holding his breath for 20 minutes and 39 seconds. He received a certificate from Guinness World Records for "The record for the longest time that someone has held their breath underwater".
Breaks the world record for the longest time underwater on the starting grid of the Formula 1 World Championship in Bahrain, before the start of the race. The event was covered live worldwide. The new world record stands at 21 minutes and 29 seconds.
Merlini is on tour. Performing on 17 different venues, presenting his signature escapes.
Plays chess upside down with chess World Champion Susan Polgár, after successfully escaping a regulation straitjacket.
Merlini was set on fire during his "Witch trial" stunt. Tied at the stake with ropes, and soaked with flammable material, he had to escape before the protective coating on his skin would volatilize.
Merlini opened The House of Houdini, presenting the largest permanent collection of original Houdini artifacts in Europe. Its artifacts were previewed at Budapest's National Széchényi Library. The museum's collection includes original Houdini memorabilia: e.g., handcuffs, personal correspondence, and "precious artifacts." A bible one owned by Houdini is part of the collection. It also includes original props from the latest "HOUDINI" film – Oxygen (1999), which featured Adrien Brody, an Oscar winner, and the later miniseries.
Accidents and injuries
In 2008 During a World Record attempt in Cannes, France, Merlini's assistants smash the giant water tank in order to rescue him, resulting in an injured arm caused by broken glass .
In 2014 he presents Hyberna, the ice escape in Italy on Canale 5. During the escape, the 1 ton ice block breaks, causing a fracture of Merlini's tibia and fibula. Merlini calmly thanks the audience for the support, before being rushed to the hospital. Few weeks later, he performs a new underwater escape, the "upper body escape", where only his head and torso is submerged underwater, due to the cast on his leg.
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- "Meet Houdini's technical advisor: David Merlini". October 23, 2013. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
David Merlini is serving as technical advisor on the Houdini miniseries currently shooting in Budapest.
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David Merlini shares with us today photos from the recent Houdini in Milano exhibition at the Expo Milano 2015. The display was presented by David and the General Commissioner of Hungary and marked the first major Houdini exhibition in Europe.
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- Murphy, Peter (December 8, 2016). "'Handcuff king' Houdini's secrets unlocked in Hungary". France24. Archived from the original on February 2, 2017. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
Set high in the capital's lofty Castle district, the House of Houdini lifts the veil on the box of tricks used by the famous magician, who lived most of his life in the United States.
- Compeer (December 13, 2016). "House of Houdini Opens in Hungary". The Magic Compass. Society of American Magicians. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
It's true, the American illusionist was Hungarian, born in Budapest in 1874, the son of a rabbi and part of a large family with seven children.
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