Fairytale romance that began with a cunning illusion

Thursday 10 July 1997 23:02 BST

It was billed as a fairytale romance between one of the most beautiful women in the world and the cleverest magician on Earth.

She came to see one of his shows and he plucked her out of the audience at random to assist with one of his illusions. Within weeks, Claudia Schiffer and David Copperfield were an item. They were pictured holding hands in the most glittering spots in Europe, her left hand heavy with a sparkling diamond.

But as with all illusions, the reality is somewhat different. It would now appear that Ms Schiffer was, in fact, paid the sum of pounds 12,500 to be pulled out of the audience.

The French magazine Paris Match claims that the meeting was a carefully calculated stunt, to boost Ms Schiffer's profile in the USand Copperfield's career in Europe.

"It was just a plot to dupe their loyal fans, and we've got the contracts to prove it," said the magazine.

Paris Match has published letters between the couple's agents to set up their first meeting at a show in Berlin in 1993.

"David seemed to pick Claudia out of the audience at random, but it was in fact the first step in a devious and incredibly detailed plan," said the magazine.

"Claudia was paid pounds 12,500 to be there and her first class tickets to Berlin, hotel suite, Mercedes limo and bodyguard were all paid for by David's PR company," it added.

The details of the contract were to have remained secret.

But there should be a happy ending to every fairytale, and this one turned out to be no exception. Their meeting may have been carefully planned but the couple really did fall in love and are now househunting. Kate Watson-Smyth

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