Interview with David Blaine
Aired November 14, 2002 - 09:40 ET

ZAHN: Most of us know David Blaine as a street magician performing amazing magic for unsuspecting passerbyers, or you may know him for his seemingly death-defying challenges, like allowing himself to be buried alive or froze in a block of ice. Ooh, I remember that one!!!

Now he’s about to become known as an author, with his new book “Mysterious Stranger.” It’s an autobiography and a history of magic, and perhaps most intriguing, the book is supposed to lead us a treasure hunt to find a 24-karat solid gold orb worth $100,000. David Blaine joins us to talk about that. And maybe you should be listening for clues this morning. Great to see you. Thanks for dropping by.

Let’s talk a little bit about how tough it is going to be for people to determine in this book where the clues are and where they’re not?

BLAINE: I kind of created it, so — with help, of course — but I created it so that it would be very simple — if you were to think “outside of the box.”

But if you were to go the typical way of solving clues, it would be very difficult.

One thing I want to note, the gold orb, when you find it, that’s not worth 100 grand; you call my cell phone number [included in the hollow stone] and I’ll show up with a briefcase of $100,000 for you for finding it.

ZAHN: Do you think anybody’s going to find it?

BLAINE: Absolutely.

ZAHN: Based on these clues...

BLAINE: I hope some kid somewhere in the middle of nowhere just figures it out and finds it.

ZAHN: I hope so, too. But based on the clues that you give in here that are so obtuse, I’m not holding out much hope. Let me read one excerpt out of this book that David has just conceded to me is a clue. Here’s a picture of P.T. Barnum right here, right, and the caption reads, “P.T. Barnum, innovative, nervy, audacious, somewhat typical of New England.”

BLAINE: That’s the one clue I’ve given away. Remove the name P.T. Barnum, leaving the words “innovative, nervy, audacious, somewhat typical of a New Englander.” Now take the first letter of each word.

It spells out IN A STONE, which means that the treasure isn’t buried anywhere. You don’t have to go digging up yards or anything; it’s resting inside a stone, and it’s a solid gold orb, so somebody with a metal detector could walk around and find it that way.

JOHNSON: Now I’m thinking, “It’s only been 17 days since the book was published, and DB’s already handing out clues?” Wait. I’ve never heard this clue before. It turns out that, unbeknownst to me, DB and BK had included their own solution inside the book.

P.T. Barnum’s IN A STONE was the first of two clues. The second clue can be found in the second to the last line of the Acknowledgments. It reads, “Also thanks—Rick Rubin.”

DB told the winner, Sherri Skanes, that the “Also thanks” yielded AT in the same manner that the P.T. Barnum caption yielded IN A STONE.

DB’s complete solution was IN A STONE AT RICK RUBIN.

It’s a good thing that nobody ever figured it out that way. Otherwise, there would have been a mad, mad, mad, mad swarm of treasure hunters invading the estate with metal detectors.

On the other hand, it might well explain the vandalism to the stone wall at the 70th step of the stairway. Keep in mind, this wall was intact when we were there, scouting out the treasure location.

Somebody had been there before the winner, Sherri Skanes, arrived. (This is her photo.) She told me that “I think it happened recently. The soil was still moist and fresh. Not sun-baked as I would expect in sunny Southern California.” Perhaps the skullduggery had occurred the previous night.

I figured this somebody had determined the correct street address and had deduced the 70th step. Once there, however, they didn’t heed either the compass directions clue or the route/root clue, thereby ignoring the only nearby tree. Instead, they proceeded to tear down the stone wall to the right and pile the stones in the flower bed to the left, ironically only a few paces away from the actual location of the treasure.

After all, DB did say, repeatedly, IN A STONE. Poor Rick.