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Bellingham magician fooled Penn & Teller, but he may not be finished working on trick

We don’t have any clue how he did it. And more importantly neither did legendary magicians and entertainers Penn Jillette and Raymond Teller.

Bellingham magician and Mount Baker Theatre regular John Walton successfully fooled Penn & Teller with a trick he says he has worked more than 25 years to perfect — a trick he calls “DaVinci Outnumbered.” The episode of “Penn & Teller: Fool Us,” which was taped in March, aired Monday night on The CW Network.

For his efforts, Walton, 67, not only won the “Fool Us” Trophy, which he was awarded on the show, but he also will be invited back to the Rio Las Vegas for a guest spot in Penn & Teller’s Vegas show.

Walton’s trick, a spin on an old number box trick according to Penn & Teller, incorporated three of Walton’s biggest loves — numbers, art and magic.

In the trick, Walton generated a “random” number from three numbers given by Penn & Teller and host Alyson Hannigan. Walton then built the number board, which was divided into 16 tiles and superimposed over an image of Leonardo DaVinci’s “Mona Lisa,” with all four-box combinations on the board adding up to the “random” number.

The kicker, however, may have been Walton writing the number in chalk on the back of the board. When Teller showed that the chalk could indeed be erased, that’s when the Vegas duo conceded that they had indeed been fooled.

Walton says he is the only person in the world performing the trick because “the degree of difficulty is off the charts,” but he told The Bellingham Herald he expects others may try it now that they’ve seen him perform it on TV.

Does that mean the trick is finally complete, or is he going to continue to work on refining it?

“I really thought I had perfected it, but just this morning I met with another magician, and he’s got an idea he told me that he thinks can help take it to the next level,” Walton told The Herald last month. “It’s a different take on it, and now I am starting to think about it. I thought this was it, but he’s got me thinking now.”

Walton, who grew up and still lives in Bellingham, is scheduled to make an appearance Dec. 21 at the Mount Baker Theatre to host his annual holiday show, and he said plans to perform “DaVinci Outnumbered” for a home crowd.

David Rasbach joined The Bellingham Herald in 2005 and now covers breaking news. He has been an editor and writer in several western states since 1994.
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