Richard J. Kaufman is a prolific author, publisher, illustrator, and editor of books and magazines in the field of magic. Born in 1958 in New York City, he became interested in magic at age 5 after receiving some novelties from the S.S. Adams company sent by his uncle Alan Soffin. This was followed up by a gift of several magic books. Richard's father, Lewis C. Kaufman (later president of B. Altman and Co.), also encouraged his interest by purchasing tricks at a magic shop, learning them, and demonstrating them to his son.
In 2000 Richard married his polar opposite and the love of his life—journalist, photographer, and designer Elizabeth O'Keefe—now Elizabeth Kaufman. Since 2002 they have collaborated daily to produce Genii, The Conjuror's Magazine and many Kaufman and Company books, including the prestigious Allan Slaight Award-winning Tenyoism. Elizabeth also edits and creates DVDs that accompany Kaufman and Company books and is the designer of this site. Together they have a daughter who loves reading books both on paper and on her Kindle.
Richard slowly began spending time at several magic shops in New York City in the early 1970s, among them Circle Magic run by Mike Tannen, Magic Center run by Russ Delmar, and Lou Tannen's Magic Shop run by the Tannen brothers Lou and Irv, and Tony Spina. By the age of 14 he was already inventing magic effects. Tannen's marketed his first two tricks when he was 15, and he illustrated his first book at age 16 (Afterthoughts by Harry Lorayne).
He attended Queens College, and then New York University, graduating in 1981 with a double-major in both English and Acting (the latter after having studied at the Stella Adler Conservatory of Acting).
Kaufman illustrated many other books in the field through 1991, re-introducing a style of cartoon-movement into technical magic illustration. He also began writing magic books, starting with the Interlocked Production of Coins in 1977. He self-published his first two modest books, then sought a partner for the financing required to publish larger books. Alan C. Greenberg, CEO of Bear Stearns, also a highly respected amateur magician, brought the financing that Kaufman required and the company Kaufman and Greenberg was born. For the next 20 years it published many of the most highly respected books in the field, capturing the sleight-of-hand methods and magic from many of the world's top magicians in printed form. In the mid-1990s, the business became Kaufman and Company and continued its successful publishing ventures. Today Kaufman and Company is supported by its partnership with Pitchford Entertainment, Media and Magic, owned by Randy Pitchford, the CEO of Gearbox Software and also the owner of The Genii Corporation. Kaufman and Pitchford is the latest imprint of Kaufman and Company.
In 1998, Genii, The Conjurors' Magazine—which had been run by the Larsen family of California since 1936, and which is the oldest continuously published independent magazine in the field of magic—was purchased by Kaufman, his wife Elizabeth, and partners Jane and Daniel Solomon. Kaufman became editor in chief and president of The Genii Corporation and the magazine continues its publication, now in both printed and digital formats. Genii also operates The Genii Forum an internet discussion group open to all and MagicPedia, the largest online encyclopedia of magic. Genii's assets were purchased by Randy Pitchford's company, Pitchford Entertainment, Media and Magic in 2017.
As a highly sought-after author, Kaufman also wrote "The Project Magic Handbook" for David Copperfield; the trick section in "Mindfreaks" for Criss Angel; "Knack Magic Tricks" for Globe Pequot Press; and numerous magic instructions for premium products offered by Royal Jello, Whisk, Burger King, and Coronet Paper Products.
Recognition of Kaufman's influence as a magic illustrator is described in Chuck Romano's book, "The Art of Deception" (1997)
Kaufman has appeared on the covers of Genii, The Conjurors' Magazine (1987); Magic Magazine (1993); The Magic Circular (2006); M-U-M (2011) and has given presentations at numerous magic conferences including the Los Angeles Conference on Magic History, The Magic Collectors Association, The Magic Circle Collectors Day, and Magic-Con 2011. He has received the 1997 Literary Fellowship from the Academy of Magical Arts (the Magic Castle), the J.N. Maskelyne Award from the Magic Circle in London in 2001, the Milbourne Christopher Award in 1995, The Allan Slaight Award for “Sharing Secrets” in both 2016 and 2019 (the only person to have received the award twice), and the Special History, Research & Scholarship Award from FISM in 2022. He has also been made an honorary life member of the Society of American Magicians and The Academy of Magical Arts at The Magic Castle, a Member of the Inner Magic Circle with Gold Star at London’s Magic Circle, and has received a president's citation from the International Brotherhood of Magicians. Kaufman wrote for the Pop Culture website Boing Boing through 2018.
Authors and Subjects
Our authors and subjects have been generous in allowing Richard to shepherd their secrets to the magic world:
Eugene Burger, Eddie Dawes, Derek Dingle, Larry Jennings, David Kaye, J.K. Hartman, So Sato, Jon Racherbaumer, Robert E. Neale, Steve Cohen, Stephen Hobbs, Phil Goldstein, David Berglas, Jack Davis and John Derris, Brother John Hamman, Jay Sankey, David Roth, Gary Kurtz, Ryan Matney, So Sato, and many more.