The Merlin Award 
Merlin Award

The Merlin Award to magic is what the Oscar is to the movies, what the Emmy is for television, and what the Tony is for theater.

Some of the winners of the Merlin Award are:

Harry Blackstone
Doug Henning
Channing Pollack
Siegfried & Roy
Penn & Teller
David Copperfield
Criss Angel
Shin Lim
Lu Chen
Luis de Matos

There are three ways a magician can receive the Merlin Award. One is to attend our Merlin Award banquet dinner; this is by invitation only, after the recipient was voted to receive the Merlin Award.

Two is to participate and win a Merlin Award competition in different countries, which is organized by IMS with the event and convention organizers.

And three is for us to travel to the magician’s country and present the Merlin Award to them in their own country.

The Merlin Award is presented to those magicians who have acheived the highest level in their craft, both on the national and international stage.

The criteria that the voting members consider are talent, showmanship, originality, skills, and above all the rare ability to entertain under any conditions.

The Merlin Award statue was commissioned to over 100 art students nationwide. The winning design was carved and created in 1968 by young New York University art student Carol Michaud.

The IMS reserves the right to change the award presentation dates at its discretion.

For more information on the Merlin Award, click here.

Merlin Award Recipients

The Merlin Award to magic is what the Oscar is for movies.

Merlin Award Recipients

David Copperfield
Harry Blackstone Jr.
Johnny Thompson
Joe Labero
Juliana Chen
Don Wayne
Kevin James
Joseph Gabriel
Brett Daniels
Harry Lorayne
Darren Romeo
James Dimmare
Gary Darwin
Steve Wyrick
Jeff McBride
Peter Reveen
Bernie Yuman
Harry Lorayne
Deddy Corbuzier
Gregory Gleason
Shin Lim
Chip Lowell
Steve Dacri
The Hamners
The Majestix
Nathan Burton
Gerry McCambridge
Keith Barry
Dixie Dooley
Nicholas Liotatis
Robin Channing
Antonio Casanova
Lee Alex
Bob Chua
Raymond Iong
Richard Yuh
Bone Ho
Jeff Lee
Jorinn Chee
Vincent Tan
Louis Yan
Sir Lawrence Khong
Lady Priscilla Khong
Neophytos Charalambides
Stephane Vanel
Wilson Lai
Robert Sode
Dr. Victor
Douglas Lefrovich
Niels Duinker
Mahdi Moammer "Moudini"
Sergey Savka
Dr. Chandran
Mrs. Chandran
Alvin Terrence
Uriy Monchak
Sasa Gerber
Veronique Ross
Michael Late
Magic Hunt
Victor Choi Kit Fai
Michele D'Auria
Tiziano Cellai
Dato Steven Harold Day
Steve Wheeler
Victor Voitko
Dmitry Mosin
George Zakris
Madiyar AlmasĀ 
Yuryi Sergienko
Anatoly Katanski
Vasily Rudenko

Siegfried & Roy
Doug Henning
Andre Kole
Franz Harary
Peter Marvey
Luis de Matos
Marshall Brodien
Stan Allen
Max Maven
William MacIlhany
Joe Stevens
David Mendoza
Simon Lovell
Bill Malone
Charles Reynolds
Stephen Zadrick
Gary Ouellet
Gay Blackstone
Lu Chen
Melinda Saxe
Asi Wind
Rene Lavand
Mahka Tendo
The Fercos Brothers
Timothy Trust
Joshua Jay
Xavier Giro
Sos & Victora
Joaquin Ayala
Florian Zimmer
Will Tsai
Ed Alonzo
Boris Wild
Jean Pierre Kraft
Paul Osborne
Jason Byrne
Sonny Fontana
Kirby VanBurch
Lyn Dillies
Ernesto Planas
Fairy Star
Antonio Restivo
Cris Castro
Brad Ross
Aref Ghafouri
Gino, The Magic Pharoah
Peter Valance
Eddy Au
Ilkay Ozdemir
Khan Showkat
Alexander One
Gelvinn Chee
Melkinn Chee
Raykinn Chee
Samala Venue
Jen Kramer
John Caluwaert
Wail Al Hunaidi
Josh Knotts
Joseph Sheik
Peter Eggink
Tom Thomson
Palmas Nguyen
Nguyen Ngoc Minh Quang
Abdullateef Hamad Alsaleh
Raymond Iong Tat Chi
Will Tsai
Walter Di Francesco
Martin Brock
Paul Fidler
Rudy Christl
Alexandra Carolina Ledezma Bastidas
Kyle Marlett
Alexx Alexxander
Marco Miele
Belinsky Alexey Alekseevich

Penn & Teller
Criss Angel
Channing Pollock
Paul Daniels
Jeff McBride
Kirby VanBurch
Nathan Burton
Jay Marshall
Kenneth Feld
Juan Mayoral
Ha Sung Chung
Tony Clark
Jonathan David Bass
Tom Mullica
Tony Spina
Michael V. Lewis
Brett Leonard
Jimmy Kikuchi
Dirk Losander
David & Dania
Eric Buss
Terry Evanswood
Jim Barber
Jan Rouven
Christian Farla
Ken Klosterman
John Taylor
Rob Lake
Arian Black
Fielding West
Pat Fallon
Stoil & Ekaterina
Selim Basarir
Kubilay Tuncer
Sos Petrosyan Jr.
J.C. Sum
Magic Babe Ning
Kevin & Cindy Spencer
Allen Ravine
David Koenig
Tony Laffan
Tse Tow Joon Yeen
Liong Ket Foei
Leow Fee Loong
Ali Raj
Afzaal Afridi
David Gonzalez Flores
Hernan Gonzalez Flores
Doug Edwards
Paul Draper
Ji Hye Jun
Vlad Kryvonogov
Moustapha Berjaoui
J.C. Sum
Magic Babe Ning
Tommy Wind
Christian Diamond
Jack Monshouwer
Rheza Elfuego
Alexx Alexander
Matt Hollywood
Subhash Bhaskar Dagadkhair
Pambudi Sunarsihanto
Nguyen Phuong
Vikneswaran Allagu
Huy Nguyen
Brian Role & Lola Palmer
Luca Volpe
Ben Blaque
Dato Seri Dr. Liew Lee
Ali Baba - Ngo Duc Duy
Vladimir Rundnev
Louis von Eckstein
Kai Udo Hildenbrand
Garry Carson
Janine Carson


Up until 2010, the Merlin Award has been a recognition award. In 2010, we presented the Merlin Award both as a recognition award and as a competition award. And we also presented the decade Merlin Awards. 2010 has been the most challenging year for IMS, as well as the most exciting.

For the complete list of 2010 Merlin Awards, click here.

For the complete list of 2011 Merlin Awards, click here.

For the complete list of 2010 decade Merlin Awards, click here.


Back To Main Site

Click here to learn about the Merlin Award.

Merlin Award FAQ

Hi. I’m Tony Hassini, Chairman/CEO of the International Magicians Society. On my next birthday, I will be 70 years old.

I got into magic when I was 16 years old. I founded the International Magicians Society in 1968 with the purpose of promoting and preserving the art of magic. In the same year, we created the Merlin Award to reward the magicians for their hard work and dedication to the art of magic.

I have devoted my entire life to promote IMS and the Merlin Award.

The Merlin Award was designed to promote the magic and the magician to the general public. A good example of this is Siegfried & Roy using their Merlin Award win on their billboards all over Las Vegas, as well as the marquee billboard on The Mirage Hotel & Casino. David Copperfield uses his Merlin Award in his live shows; before his shows begin, a large projection shows his awards and in large letters, “Magician of The Century, by the International Magicians Society“ is shown over and over again. And Criss Angel uses it quite often in his TV shows, his live show at The Luxor, and his magic set.

Also, the Merlin Award is designed to help magicians to negotiate for their next contract, which quite often becomes a good negotiation tool.

Recently, we presented the Merlin Award to Tse Tow Joon Yeen for Best Close-Up Magician In Brunei. The event was covered by radio, television, and all of the newspapers in Brunei. In fact, the Merlin Award made the front page of Brunei’s leading newspaper with the Sultan of Brunei.

When the Chairman/CEO of IMS travels the distance to go to a country to present the Merlin Award to a magician of that country, their media takes interest. This creates good PR for the recipient magician, as well as magicians in general.

Sometimes, I am asked why don’t we publish the year and category for each magician’s Merlin Award on our website. The fact is that when the magician receives his award during that year, we publish the category and announce it at our press conferences. Thereafter, it did not serve a purpose to publish the category or the year on our website. Because some categories might sound more glorious than others, there’s no point of hyping or diminishing anyone’s award or the year they received it. And there’s no point in dating their awards either. The bottom line is everyone who received the Merlin Award is a Merlin Award Recipient and is entitled to enjoy the glory for the rest of their life without dating or categorizing it.

I’m also asked how many Merlin Awards do we present per year. Since we are an international organization and have IMS Presidents in different countries, we try to consider as many countries and their magicians.

There are over 200 countries in the world. It will be humanly impossible to present 200 awards a year. Therefore, we try to narrow it down to approximately 30 countries and their magicians per year. Sometimes, there might be two or three magicians from each country.

We also presented duplicate categories in different countries. For example, there might be a Best Close-Up Magician In India, Best Close-Up Magician In China, and Best Close-Up Magician In Thailand. However, there is only one Magician of The Year, Illusionist of The Year, Mentalist of The Year, and Most Original Magician of The Year within any given year throughout the world.

I’m also asked how do we consider a nominee for the Merlin Award? A magician must send to the IMS World Headquarters a videotape or DVD of his complete act for our Board of Directors to consider. (No promo DVD’s or online videos are accepted.)

The other question I am asked is “Are there any costs to receive the Merlin Award?” First, I must say that the Merlin Award is not for sale at any cost.

Regarding the actual out-of-pocket cost, this varies from situation to situation.

There are three ways a magician can receive the Merlin Award. One is to attend our Merlin Award banquet dinner; this is by invitation only, after the recipient was voted to receive the Merlin Award.

Two is to participate and win a Merlin Award competition in different countries, which is organized by IMS with the event and convention organizers.

And three is for us to travel to the magician’s country and present the Merlin Award to them in their own country.

So let’s look at the cost of the first scenario, which is where the magician must obtain a visa from the American embassy to travel to the USA. He must purchase airline tickets, other travel related costs and fees, hotels, meals, and $500 US dollars per plate at the Merlin Award banquet dinner.

In the second scenario, again the magician must travel to the event where the Merlin Award competition is taking place. He pays all of the same travel expenses as mentioned in the first scenario and pays for the entrance fee to the convention or to the competition, whichever applies.

In the third scenario, where we have to travel from the USA to the magician’s country, either the magician or the magician’s producer pays for all of the travel expenses, hotels, meals, airlines, and other related expenses.

Within any of these three scenarios, it’s always a trade when it comes to the cost.

Within any of the three scenarios, our main focus is to generate as much PR as possible with the general public. A good example of this is when we were going to present the Merlin Award to Louis Yan in Hong Kong, we could have presented the award to him in our Hong Kong IMS office. Or we could have had our IMS members meet at a nice Chinese restaurant and present the award to him there. Then we came up with an idea. We approached one of the largest shopping malls in Hong Kong. Not only did they build a custom stage and provided enough seating for the audience, they also provided guards for crowd control. The mall management, with their media contacts, were able to invite newspapers, radio, and television to cover the event. Both the mall and Louis Yan received tremendous PR and public awareness.

My father used to say "If you want to sell lemonade, go where the crowds are." If the crowds are at the mall, by all means, we're going to the mall. If the crowds are at the ball game, then let's go to the ball game. As a matter of fact, in 1976, I created the Marvelous Magical Burger King character for Burger King Corporation. The following years, we took the Burger King character to the largest sporting events across the USA. He performed a baseball bat levitation in Yankee Stadium to 55,000 people in attendance, surrounded 360 degrees. We repeated this with other ball parks, as well as basketball games, where the Marvelous Magical Burger King will stake basketballs and levitate a girl on top of them to very large surrounded gatherings.

Here are pictures of the Marvelous Magical Burger King's performances at ball games during half time, click here.

Anyhow, getting back to the Merlin Award, I am toying with an idea to present the Merlin Award to a very prestigious magician during the Super Bowl at half time and build Merlin Award statues as big as trojan horses to get he message across.

The Merlin Award is not only presented to the magicians, we presented the award to other individuals who helped create and shape magic and magicians. This includes illusion designers and builders, magic producers/directors, magic convention organizers, and performers who create a magical experience for their audience.

For the current 2010 Merlin Award recipients’ photos, go to this link:

For the 2010 decade Merlin Award recipients' photos, go to this link:

Until next time!

Magically yours,

Tony Hassini