Chilean magician Jean Paul Olhaberry has been crowned best escape artist at this decade’s Merlin Awards 2022 held in Las Vegas, known around the world as the Academy Awards of Magic. “I’m convinced that Jean Paul is the modern-day Houdini”, said Danny T., Latin American Ambassador for the International Magicians Society in the United States.
Chilean illusionist Jean Paul Olhaberry, known as the “magician from the end of the world”, who is ranked among the world’s top 10 magicians by the International Federation of Magic Societies, has been named best escape artist at this decade’s Merlin Awards 2022, held on May 19 in Las Vegas, known around the world as the Academy Awards of Magic. Jean Paul was the only Latin American nominated for the awards, which have also been received by the world’s most prestigious magicians, such as David Copperfield, David Blaine, Criss Angel, and Penn and Teller.
“It’s a huge honor to deliver this Merlin Award to the first Chilean to have won gold in recognition of his achievements, so that the whole world knows him, is amazed by him, and marvels at his art”, Danny T., Latin American Ambassador for the International Magicians Society (IMS), said from Las Vegas. “He’s not only spreading the art of magic throughout Latin America and the world, but also making remarkable contributions to the discipline of escapism with his unique style that’s never been seen before. He connects magic with the surrounding geography, acting under extreme conditions and in wild environments, where nature becomes the protagonist in the most extenuating circumstances. Olhaberry is taking the art of escapism to another level. I’m convinced that Jean Paul is the modern-day Houdini”, Danny T. continued.
Speaking from Las Vegas, Olhaberry said that this recognition was achieved thanks to “very hard work, where I’ve had to overcome thousands of obstacles. To be here in Las Vegas today, alongside my idols, the best magicians in the world, is a dream come true, and I’ve achieved it because I love what I do. Magic isn’t only show; it’s an art capable of transforming my life and the lives of others. This award is for my family, my team, and for Chile. Thanks to my teacher, Fernando Larraín, for always inspiring my journey. Just like Harry Houdini, I will take the art of escapism to the highest level in memory and to the most amazing natural places in the world”, the escape artist said after receiving the award in the United States.
Prior to the pandemic, in 2019, illusionist Jean Paul Olhaberry performed a series of acts of escapism in different natural settings in Chile that captured the attention of his international peers. These feats, together with his previous work, made him the only Latin American nominated for this decade’s Merlin Awards. Several acts have taken him to the peak of world magic, such as a spectacular underwater chain escape off the coast of Easter Island, a straitjacket escape while hanging 100 meters in the air from the Malleco Viaduct in Chile’s Araucanía Region, and a static apnea record of 7:41 minutes in a container of water in Valparaíso’s Sotomayor Plaza, with which he surpassed the famous American escape artist David Blaine.
This award places Chile on the international stage for escapism and captures the world’s attention. “This recognition puts Chile on the world map of magic, through the talent of its people. This is exactly what we want to promote at the Image of Chile Foundation. We want the world to know that we’re much more than incredible landscapes, and that we have a great capacity to create and innovate in the most diverse areas. Jean Paul Olhaberry is an excellent example of this; of how Chile is at the forefront, establishing escapism as a new way of showcasing Chilean talent to the world”, said Image of Chile Foundation Executive Director Constanza Cea.
“For us as a country, it’s a source of great pride that a Chilean like Jean Paul Olhaberry is representing us in events as important as these. It’s a tremendous contribution to putting Chile on the world’s main stages. It’s also a boost to the international country promotion campaign ‘Chile, where the impossible is possible’. Through his performances, he embodies precisely that spirit by setting himself challenges that seem to be impossible, but which he overcomes while showcasing our country to the rest of the world in an attractive way”, explained Acting National Director of Chile’s National Tourism Service (SERNATUR), Beatriz Román.
“Magic and illusionism are part of the diversity of Chilean performing arts, characterized by their narrative, their skill and the risk involved in each creation. In Chile, both in circus tents and other stages, we’ve seen outstanding artists who have developed this field, transmitting their knowledge and amazing tricks down through the generations. This has enabled them to retain their individuality at a level that is today recognized around the world. This accolade for Jean Paul Olhaberry is clear proof that the work of our artists goes beyond our borders”, noted Javier Valenzuela Bravo, Executive Secretary for the Performing Arts at Chile’s Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage, after watching Jean Paul receive the award in Las Vegas, alongside the world’s most renowned magicians.
To celebrate his win, Jean Paul is preparing an astonishing performance with which he intends to achieve new records for Chile upon returning from Las Vegas, kicking off a series of acts that will be held in iconic locations in several Chilean regions. Through these acts, he aims to keep establishing and strengthening the messages “Chile, where the impossible is possible” and “Chile, creating future”, which the country is promoting internationally to highlight Chilean talent and the country’s tourist destinations.