1976: Seckel attends Cornell summer and fall semesters as a “special student” (provisional admission, not a degree candidate). Summer: gets F in physics. Fall: takes Pearce Williams science history class (gets B), calculus (grade of “not attending”), and repeats physics (“no grade reported”).
1977: Seckel applies for Cornell spring semester admission but is rejected.
1982 or 1983: Atheists United flyer by John Edwards and Seckel, with “Darwin fish” drawing (drawn by Edwards).
1983 Dec 13: Seckel and Milton Timmons give speeches for Atheists United at Cyprus College.
1984 Oct 4: Southern California Skeptics (SCS) incorporated; Seckel files for non-profit status. Operates it from his home: 2096 Brigden Rd., Pasadena, but with Redondo Beach POB address. Lectures are at California Institute of Technology. SCS is founded as a local affiliate of CSICOP, whose Paul Kurtz provides under-the-table CSICOP funds for its start-up. (Years later, after legal problems, CSICOP announces that local groups are not CSCIOP “affiliates,” but independent.)
1984 Nov 9-10: Seckel attends CSICOP conference at Stanford University. Meets with skeptics, asks for assistance in forming local group in southern California (Southern California Skeptics).
1984?: Magicians Penn and Teller performing in Los Angeles nightclub before they were famous. Seckel says they had a "hard time getting people to come to their show and, being friends with them, they would call me up and tell me to bring my friends," who included Richard Feynman, Al Hibbs, and Tom Van Sant.
1985: SCS begins activities under Seckel. Seckel describes himself as “physicist, historian of science” in SCS newsletter masthead (Laser). Board members include Murray Gell-Mann, Paul MacCready, Al Hibbs, Ron Crowley, Joseph Kirschvink, James Randi, and David Alexander. Molly Squire: Laser (newsletter) editor.
1985 March 5: Stephen J. Gould gives (non-SCS) Caltech-sponsored lecture. Seckel had wanted Gould for an SCS lecture, and later falsely accuses McIver of calling Gould and conspiring to interfere with the “SCS” (i.e. Caltech) lecture.
1985 Nov 1: State of California requests SCS financial information after granting provisional non-profit status but never gets reply.
1985-1988?: Seckel refuses to pay Jerry Andrus his SCS lecture honorarium, accusing him of stealing an illusion. Ray Hyman investigates and proves Seckel wrong. Seckel also tries to avoid paying Schadewald, Thwaites and Awbrey, and doesn’t pay Klass.
1986 Aug: James Randi wins MacArthur Fellowship. Seckel had written to him earlier saying he was a judge (though judges are not disclosed), and could get him the award. Randi apparently believed him, and asked him to do so in letters that Seckel submitted as preliminary evidence in Seckel v. McIver (see 8-29-07 entry). Seckel has also claimed to be on MacArthur Foundation’s “Board of Directors.”
1986 Aug 18: At National Press Club (Wash. DC) press conference, Seckel announces filing of “Nobelist” brief in Supreme Court creationism case (amicus brief opposing teaching of creationism signed by 72 Nobel laureate scientists). Attorney Jeffrey Lehman (Cornell ’77) is primary author.
1986: Seckel writes Skeptical Inquirer article (vol. 11, no. 2) on Supreme Court creationism brief. Seckel has claimed co-authorship of brief, and credit for organizing it (Gell-Mann is generally credited as organizer; both were involved).
1986, 1987: Seckel edits two books of essays and excerpts of Bertrand Russell (one on God and religion, the other on ethics and sex). (Later, Prometheus Books reportedly hears about “problems” with these books, possibly use of uncredited material written by others.)
1987 Jan 24: Los Angeles Times article quotes Seckel extensively, describes him as "graduate of Cornell in physics and math, who took leave from Caltech, where he was a candidate for doctoral degrees in both relativistic astrophysics and biochemistry." 1987 Feb 7: Skeptical Inqurier editor Kendrick Frazier, in letter to McIver, admits there have been many complaints to CSICOP about Seckel.
1987 April: CSICOP holds annual conference at Pasadena, with SCS as local host and Carl Sagan featured speaker. Mark Plummer of CSICOP calls McIver a few days before start, complaining that Seckel had promised to make local arrangements but had done nothing. McIver helps instead. Michael Shermer attends (Shermer, then an ultra-long distance cyclist, had introduced himself to Paul MacCready, who introduced him to SCS).
1987: SCS booklet Science & the Paranormal describes Seckel as a “physicist,” and SCS as “non-profit.”
1987: Mark Plummer of CSICOP phones McIver detailing further Seckel wrongdoing, says CSICOP has gotten many serious complaints, and that Seckel keeps no real SCS financial records. (John Cole, Plummer’s predecessor as CSICOP Exec. Dir., also reported similar problems.)
1987 Oct –1988 Jan: Seckel writes four (total) Los Angeles Times columns ("Skeptical Eye"); all seem plagiarized (with text nearly identical to unattributed articles by Robert Sheaffer [two articles], Reiser et al., and Randi). Lippard's text comparisons with originals here, here, and here; the fourth discussed here.
1987 Nov 4: Seckel gives SCS lecture at Cal State Fullerton, hosted by CSUF physics professor (and SCS Chairman) Ron Crowley.
1987 Dec 20: Daughter Elizabeth born to Seckel and wife Laura.
1987: Seckel listed as CSICOP "Scientific and Technical Consultant" in Skeptical Inquirer (1987-1988 Winter issue). Consultants are official, elected CSICOP members.
1988 Feb 15: Richard Feynman dies. Seckel continues to claim they were extremely close friends during the 1980s at Caltech (e.g., webpage “Al Seckel’s Richard Feynman"), often socializing and going camping together, as well as scientific colleagues, and that he was one of three grad students who Feynman advised.
1988 June 28: Letter from Kent Harker of Bay Area Skeptics to Seckel stating that Sheaffer had not given Seckel permission to publish account Sheaffer had written which Seckel published under his own name in his L.A. Times column, and that it was obvious that Seckel had merely “edited” it, though claiming authorship.
1988 Oct 4: Altadena/Pasadena Weekly article quotes Seckel, describes him as “Cornell-educated mathematician, on hiatus from earning his doctorate in physics and microbiology.”
1988: Seckel (in 1991) told Pat Linse that in 1988 he personally got $60,000 out of SCS, and that if she took position of exec. dir. she would get $30,000. (SCS positions are all volunteer and unpaid, so any money gotten personally would be fraudulently obtained. Linse refuses.) But publicly, he claims that SCS had negligible funds, and that he contributed his own money to keep it afloat: a claim that Shneour and others cite as "proof" that there was no financial mismanagement or wrongdoing by Seckel.
1988: Seckel featured by CSICOP in numerous Skeptical Inquirer articles, and conference. Seckel article included in book Not Necessarily the New Age (from CSICOP’s Prometheus Books) which describes him as “physicist” and “molecular biologist.”
1988: Seckel writes brochure on how to set up skeptics group. Says ads, publicity, and lecture halls can be gotten free, with all work done by volunteers; and that the only expense is flyers and “possibly” honoraria. Says State of California funds SCS, and it is easy to get $400-600 per lecture.
1988: Michael Crichton’s book Travels has postscript about being invited by Paul MacCready in 1987 to speak at the “Pasadena chapter of CISCOP” at CalTech (i.e., Seckel's Southern California Skeptics). The invitation fell through. In 2006, at a Skeptic conference, MacCready recalled that the planned lecture was called off because SCS was being disbanded—and that SCS’s demise was due to Seckel being hospitalized [sic].
1988-1990: Suzy Shaw handles SCS financial accounts, writing checks and making deposits, though Bart Hibbs is officially listed as Treasurer. Shaw later privately reports that Seckel fraudulently altered checks, and that many bounced. Pat Linse also reports numerous bounced checks and complaints of non-payment. Shaw allegedly invested (and lost) $250,000 with Seckel, but is reluctant to testify against him because he knows about her past tax problems. Shaw had also been handling financial accounts of Bomp Records prior to and during this period.
1989 May-Sept: Seckel reportedly discarding SCS files and equipment (according to Linse), preparing to abandon SCS because his fraud is now apparent to SCS volunteers.
1989 June: Anonymous postcard (from David Alexander) to McIver announcing that SCS is in desperate financial trouble and that Seckel is probably stealing funds. Alexander had expected to replace Seckel as SCS head when his fraud became apparent, but Seckel objected because Alexander had no college degree (!), and Seckel stayed on himself. Alexander later said he wanted to write a book about Seckel after his death. (Alexander himself died 2010. When contacted re Seckel v. McIver, Alexander characterized Seckel as “scum.” Also mentioned that Seckel tried to get him to write that Duane Gish embezzled money, a false claim Alexander refused to make.)
1989 Aug: Pasadena Today article (L.A. Times suppl.) says Seckel has Cornell math and physics degree and was doctoral candidate at Caltech.
1990 Jan 16: Steve Allen gives SCS lecture, without charging any fee, though audience is charged admission. (SCS volunteers say some SCS lectures now bring in $5,000-10,000.)
1990 Spring: Final SCS lecture. At least one membership check is cashed although Laser (SCS newsletter) had ceased publication (according to Linse and Shaw) and SCS was no longer in operation.
1990: Seckel still claiming non-profit status in summer 1990 flyers, according to SCS volunteer Molly Squire.
1990 Sept: First written Caltech reply to McIver regarding his claims of grad student status: Caltech says simply it is "unable to verify" his attendance.
1990 Sept: City of Pasadena files claim against Seckel. (In her deposition, Linse said Seckel was evicted from a Pasadena house, and Dan Meier then helped him move into a new one. Elsewhere she said Seckel bought a house with Meier and Suzy Shaw.)
1990 Nov 6: Seckel files cross-complaint against Blumka in antique clock deal, claiming it was defective. Later, when sued for defaulting on his Ferrari lease, Seckel claimed Blumka’s refusal to pay him back caused the default. (Ferrari dealer won $70,000 judgment against Seckel.) Clock expert Winthrop Edey also named as defendant. Seckel reportedly so obsessed with trial he neglects SCS (according to Blumka attorney). Seckel's complaint later dismissed.
1990 Nov 10: Erik Beckjord accuses Seckel in UFO newsletter Saucer Smear of fake credentials and financial fraud. Saucer Smear publishes many more items about Seckel up to 1993, all highly critical. Some written by Molly Squire (SCS volunteer, then Beckjord’s girlfriend after she broke up with magician Bob Steiner of CSICOP). Beckjord, a paranormalist and Bigfoot promoter (and SCS member) had first challenged Seckel's credentials on a call-in radio show when Seckel was claiming to be a PhD student.
1990 Nov 28: Cornell letter in reply to McIver’s query confirms that Seckel did not graduate. (When Seckel found out earlier that people were inquiring about his Cornell claims, he had his record sealed, which delayed this response. Cornell replied to McIver because he provided documentation of Seckel’s widely published false credential claims.)
1991 Jan 5: Saucer Smear editor Moseley reports that Phil Klass told him an audit cleared SCS of financial fraud allegations. Molly Squire letter in same issue urges skeptics to check SCS tax-exempt claims for themselves.
1991 Apr 4: McIver sends letter to SCS requesting IRS forms 1023 and 990 (required financial information for tax-exempt organizations); it is returned unopened, marked “closed, unable to forward.” In Seckel v. McIver, Seckel claimed he never knew SCS non-profit status had been revoked (four years earlier!), and thus that McIver's statements about Seckel's false non-profit claims constituted libel.
1991 May 1: First McIver letter in Saucer Smear. Several letters about Seckel had already been published in previous issues. Klass had previously insisted to Smear editor Moseley that SCS non-profit status was not revoked although Smear had reported it was; Klass (according to Linse) even offered to bet him it wasn’t.
1991 June 21: Linse asks Cornell about transcript; afterwards Seckel displays a completely different transcript (a fake) to several people, listing advanced standing, many advanced courses and top grades, and fellowship award. Some CSICOP leaders and some SCS supporters, such as Shneour, believe him.
1991-1993: Extensive McIver correspondence with Philip Klass (hundreds of pages) about Seckel. For months Klass, CSICOP's leading UFO debunker, vehemently denies allegations and evidence about Seckel; then, he blames McIver for the affair and begins smear campaign against McIver which he boasts about mailing widely (e.g., his report “McIver’s Laws: How to Use Falsehood to Villify [sic] the Innocent,” which he claimed had four printings, and a series of “McIver Forked Tongue” flyers). Throughout his letters and flyers Klass refers to McIver as "Hopeless Kook," "obstinate crank," "crackpot," "one of the dumbest adults alive," and "Venomous Pipsqueak" who makes "wild, baseless claims," "completely spurious allegations" and "Flat-out Lies" he "knows to be false." Excerpts here. Excerpts from McIver's responses here.
1991 July 16: Klass falsely reports that McIver used an alias in his inquiries about Seckel (suggesting continued communication between Klass and Seckel).
1991 July 20: Klass first concedes (after long denial) that Seckel’s credentials are phony in letter to McIver, but continues to deny the financial allegations.
1991 Oct: Michael Shermer writes Science, Technology & Human Values article about the 1987 Supreme Court creationism case, using Seckel as primary source. McIver mentions article to Linse, who introduces herself to Shermer, curious about his relationship to Seckel. Shermer assures her Seckel is not connected with new group he is starting with CSICOP support (Skeptics Society) and she joins, becoming a founding member and co-publisher of its Skeptic magazine.
1991 Oct: Seckel hospitalized for sudden onset leukemia. In 1993 has elective chemotherapy for leukemia then in remission. Seckel later claims he ran SCS “successfully” until stricken with leukemia in 1989 [sic], which forced him to quit.
1991 Nov: Letter from Wells Fargo Bank verifies that SCS financial records are closed to the public, contrary to what Seckel had claimed (and which Seckel’s apologists such as Klass and Shneour believed). Klass and Shneour continue to insist, illogically, that Seckel could not possibly have misappropriated any SCS funds because he said he contributed money out of his own pocket to keep SCS afloat.
1991 Dec 23: S.J. Gould letter to McIver confirms that he barely knew Seckel, and believes that Nobel brief was not significant in Supreme Court decision, contrary to what Seckel claimed (and what Shermer reported).
1991: Seckel reportedly files for bankruptcy in 1991 or thereabouts.
1992 Jan: Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research publishes article “CSICOP and the Skeptics” by George Hansen, mentioning Seckel’s false credential claims and alluding to other incidents involving him.
1992 Jan 2: Letter from Caltech Registrar to McIver confirms Seckel was never registered as student there.
1992 March 22: Randi gives first lecture to Shermer’s new Skeptics Society.
1992 April?: Suzy Shaw (Bomp Records) meets Patrick Boissel in France; they later team up.
1992: Skeptics Society publishes first Skeptic magazine issue. Seckel tries to get involved with the group, then threatens to sue Shermer when rebuffed and after Shermer refuses to pay him for SCS mailing list (which was supposed to revert to CSICOP, now backing Shermer’s new group). Later, Shermer drops McIver as contributing editor under pressure from Klass and Shneour, but then reinstates him (dropping him again when Seckel sues McIver in 2007).
1992?: Seckel tells Shermer that IRS is investigating him and he needs letter from him saying Skeptics Society has no connection to SCS (but later will publicly claim the opposite--that Skeptics Society is merely a continuation of SCS, using SCS mailing list, etc.).
1992 Nov 24: Ken Rosenthal issued patent #5165580 for water levitation device. (The "levitation" is an optical illusion produced by strobe lighting.) Seckel later tries, unsuccessfully, to patent a suspiciously similar water levitating device himself.
1992 Dec: In letter to Jim Lippard, Klass accuses McIver of slander for criticizing his continued denials of the evidence about Seckel.
1992: Seckel writes review of Gleick’s biography of Feynman for Santa Monica News. Reprinted here. Seckel stresses that Gleick didn't know Feynman personally, unlike himself, who was very close friends with Feynman.
1993 May 15: McIver reports in Saucer Smear that Klass refused to show him any evidence of claimed SCS audit. Klass told him that Shneour had it, but Shneour told him that CSICOP had it. CSICOP said they didn’t, and referred McIver back to Shneour, who then threatened to sue McIver if he asked him any more about it.
1993 Aug 11: In letter to McIver, Prof. Pearce Williams confirms that Seckel lied about his Cornell career, and also says Seckel defrauded him and his son, and that he considers him a thief. Seckel accuses McIver of forging this letter. Shneour believes this accusation and repeats it. (Seckel later repeats forgery accusation in Wikipedia discussion pages and in correspondence with Lippard and others.)
1993 Oct: Klass writes to Moseley that Seckel resigned from CSICOP and SCS more than two years ago “as a result of Tom McIver’s investigation into Seckel’s academic background.”
1993 Dec 20: Shermer writes to Klass describing Seckel’s dishonesty. Says that Pearce Williams confirmed to him the truth of the letter he wrote to McIver, and that a Caltech history professor also discovered Seckel’s fraud and terminated his relationship with him. Shermer says he never met anyone who aroused such venom so quickly.
1994 Jan 5: Klass writes to Shermer claiming (falsely) that he “never once doubted that Seckel lied about his academic career” since reading the material Linse and McIver delivered to him in May ’91.
1994 Nov 3: McIver article in San Diego Reader mentions Seckel’s financial fraud, forged documents, and fake credentials; also Shneour’s defense of Seckel. Seckel never responds to this (nor does Shneour).
1995: Seckel sues Evolution Design re Darwin Fish design claiming copyright infringement. Lawsuit settled upon determination that design was never properly copyrighted and had become public domain. Seckel claims he and John Edwards (who first drew it) created it in 1983 or earlier. Edwards says he conceived it and Seckel helped him refine the design.
1995 Dec 12: Evolution Design files complaint against Seckel.
1995 Aug-Dec: Appeal in Seckel v. Blumkare sale of 16th-century clock; Seckel’s lawyer is sanctioned for making false accusation of document forgery (letterhead from Seckel stating “Museum Quality Antique Clocks, Furniture, and Rare Books"). Susan Shaw of Bomp Records named as having seen clock with Seckel, having stored records for him, and being authorized to sign checks in his name. Seckel claimed the Blumka trial caused him to develop leukemia, but judge sanctions him for making this “frivolous” claim.
1996 April 10: IllusionWorks files as LLC. Officers: Seckel, Paul MacCready, Taylor Family Trust. Taylor Family Trust (1405 S. Oakland Ave, Pasadena) is a major stockholder in AeroVironment; Stanford H. Taylor (Cornell ’50) was then senior executive at AeroVironment. IllusionWorks classified as “Art gallery, commercial,” and “tourist attraction”; “amusement and recreation services” (NEC).
1996 May 22: Seckel and wife Laura file for Chap. 7 bankruptcy; discharged 10-23-1996 (#96-26438 Calif. Central—Los Angeles).
1996 Oct: Laura Mullen Seckel listed as living with Seckel at 701 Saint Katherine Dr., La Cañada Flintridge, up to this date.
1996 Nov: 701 Saint Katherine Drive, La Cañada Flintridge, described as “palatial,” sells for $1,150,000.
1996 Dec: "Al Seckel's Homepage of Illusions, Perception & Cognitive Science, LLC” website created, hosted on Caltech domain (neuro.caltech.edu/~seckel), and "sponsored by the Shimojo Laboratory.” Seckel claims affiliation with both Christof Koch and Shinsuke Shimojo labs at Caltech, and gives his e-mail address as firstname.lastname@example.org (Koch’s lab). Alice Klarke listed as “Senior Creative Artist & Designer." Claims he is co-authoring "comprehensive academic treatise on illusions, perception, and the neuronal correlates of illusion" for MIT Press. Says he will appear on June 1997 "Discover [sic] Channel's show 'Secret Senses'" with Koch and "Vilamayur [sic] Ramachandran."
1996: Seckel signs book deal with MIT Press. In initial disclosure documents for 2007 lawsuit against McIver, Seckel includes copy of this deal, but with co-author's name blacked out. (Prior to the lawsuit, Seckel publicly claimed co-author was Shimojo of Caltech.)
1997: IllusionWorks website mirrored at Dresden Univ. Technology hosted website. Announces that "Your Mind's Eye" interactive illusion exhibit will be on display starting late Spring 1998 at WonderWorks (Orlando FL), Exploratorium (San Francisco), Boston Museum of Science, Technorama (Switzerland), Xperiment Huset (Sweden), London Science Museum, The Exploratory (Bristol, UK), University of Cambridge.
1997: On IllusionWorks.com website Seckel claims to be co-authoring book with Shimojo for MIT Press and also writing new edition of Richard Gregory’s book. Says he ran SCS until 1990 leukemia onset. Shimojo allows Seckel to use his Caltech lab address. Seckel takes Shimojo lab staff on whitewater raft trip (1997?). Personal page shows Seckel with famous scientists and celebrities, and daughter with David Copperfield. Seckel reportedly exploits his Caltech ties by charging Caltech for many of his expenses, claiming to be a Caltech researcher, and even parading in commencement ceremonies in full faculty gown.
1997 Feb: Oxford Univ. Press (e-mail to McIver) denies Seckel is co-authoring Richard Gregory book (as Seckel claims in his website); McIver corresponds with Brand of MIT Univ. Press about Seckel’s claim of MIT book deal.
1998: Seckel and Jeremy Norman team up to purchase molecular biology archives of prominent scientists, making oral contracts for Seckel to purchase papers and documents from the scientists with funds provided by Norman (over $1.5 million).
1999 May 23: Sunday Mirror (London) article about former super-model Denice Lewis in L.A. County Jail on drug, alcohol, and other charges: “How the Model Who Shared Her Men with Diana and Fergie Went from the Cover of Tatler to be Plain Prisoner No.5790679 in this LA Jail.”
1999 Oct: On IllusionWorks website, Paul MacCready listed as President. Norman Kaderlan listed as CEO and CFO; he later says he wanted his name removed from website and was “not surprised” by McIver’s evidence about Seckel. William Haefliger listed as legal and patent counsel; he later said he tried to file just one patent for Seckel (levitating water device?), and that Seckel left him with unpaid bill. Michael Krieger listed as "legal counsel, contracts, and intellectual property" (see 3-1-10 entry). Alice Klarke, Seckel's wife, listed as "senior creative artist and designer.” Seckel lists himself as Vice-President. By 2002, Klarke is dropped from list. Jyl Boline is added as VP; she later said Seckel owes her more than $4000, that Seckel was not a researcher nor really a member of Caltech community, and that he seriously misrepresented himself.
1999 Nov 15: Seckel writes to Francis Crick about acquiring his archives with the help of Jeremy Norman. Says Horace Freeland Judson is “overjoyed” at the project and wants to help in every way. According to Crick's son, however, the contract sent by Seckel had completely different terms than those they had discussed. Crick is also warned by a major collector, who knows Seckel's reputation, not to have anything to do with him.
2001 Feb 28: Seckel files for divorce from Alice Klarke. In a declaration Klarke says Seckel pretended to be a scientist and conned people. Includes résumé for Seckel listing Cornell math and physics degree and Caltech doctoral studies. (Klarke apparently did much of IllusionWorks graphics.) Judgment by Court: Feb 28, 2007.
2001 June 14: Nature article by Rex Dalton about Norman’s molecular biology archives project raises concern about possible sale to private collectors, though Norman says the archive will be kept together and made available to researchers in a public institution.
2001 June 28: Catalysis Books files for incorporation. Seckel is President. Later suspended by State of California for non-compliance and/or non-payment.
2001 July 23: Scientific Archives, Malibu, files for incorporation. Seckel is President. Address (later) listed as 20404 Little Rock Way, Malibu. Created as financial instrument for archives acquired with Norman, with Crowley as agent. (Company was later suspended by State.)
2001 Nov: Wellcome Institute buys Francis Crick archives. Seckel had been negotiating with Crick to purchase them in association with Jeremy Norman, then later with funds by another private collector who said he wanted to donate them to Caltech, but James Watson urged Crick to sell them to Wellcome instead. Negotiations archived here, with Seckel addressed as "Dr." Seckel tells Crick he has "impeccable" record for honesty and integrity, saying that past presidents of American Booksellers Association can attest to his expertise and reliability. Provides letter endorsing him from rare-book dealer Michael R. Thompson, who had appraised the Crick archives for Wellcome. Thompson later stated that Seckel "invariably betrayed everyone who had anything to do with him."
2001: Seckel’s book Art of Optical Illusions selected one of Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers by American Library Association.
2003 Jan 23: Seckel gives lecture at Harvard, hosted by Patrick Cavanagh.
2003 Jan or Feb: After finding out Norman’s intention to auction the molecular biology archives at auction, Seckel’s lawyers write to Christie’s auction house telling them that Norman has no right to sell the molecular biology archives items separately and publicly.
2003 June 5: Seckel participates in first Adventures of the Mind mentoring summit (Seattle). Other participants include Sergey Brin, Daniel Dennett, Murray Gell-Mann, Sheldon Glashow, Jack Horner, Leon Lederman, Paul MacCready, Marvin Minsky, Nathan Myhrvold, Larry Page, Arno Penzias, Lisa Randall, Michael Shermer, Charles Simonyi, Frank Sulloway, Steve Wozniak.
2003 June 23: Seckel files cross-complaint against Norman claiming that Norman violated their agreement to keep the molecular biology archives together and not sell them privately. Says he has bought and sold millions of dollars worth of books since 1978, but that since Feb. 2003 he “has been completely unable to buy or sell any books or documents, and his business…has been completely destroyed.” Complaint and cross-complaint dismissed 2005.
2004 Jan 26: Seckel gives lecture at MIT. Described as “research fellow in the Division of Computational and Neuronal Systems at the California Institute of Technology.” Seckel says lecture is hosted by Marvin Minsky.
2004 Mar 10: Seckel gives presentation to Scholars Programme at Singapore Science Centre.
2004 Mar 25: Critical comments about Seckel posted on JREF Forum ("Who is Al Seckel?") by "Topaz." Describes him as pompous, credit-grabbing "self-proclaimed genius." Joseph Meier later sees posts, and tells McIver that Seckel nearly cheated him out of $20,000 for non-existent incunabula and insisted he had solved Fermat's Last Theorem. These comments deleted soon after.
2004 June 17: Seckel marries Denice Darlene Lewis (marriage certificate filed 6-22-04). They live at 694 Wendover Rd., La Cañada Flintridge; then at 20404 Little Rock Way, Malibu, in Balinese-themed house that rents for $13,500/mo. Seckel reportedly puts his art collection in storage when moving to Malibu house because it is not as large as previous residence.
2004 Oct 1: Seckel files for divorce from Denice Lewis. Seckel files statement with court Jan 5, 2005 (signed on 11/3/04), under penalty of perjury, claiming BS from Cornell in math and science and a PhD degree. Also states he owes first wife Laura, then living with them, $100,000 of $175,000 loan.
2004 Oct 20: Denice Lewis accuses Seckel of assault with deadly weapon (trying to run her over in his car). Seckel recruits Geoff Miller of Mad Cow Studios, who he owes money to for computer work, to testify on his behalf. In 2007 e-mail to McIver, Miller says Seckel’s lawyer implied to him that Seckel had previously been accused of assaulting a woman at Cornell.
2004 Nov: Press release describes Denice Lewis’s new career as abstract artist, incorporating ashes of deceased relatives or pets into commissioned “tribute” paintings.
2004 Nov 8: Seckel gives keynote lecture at Univ. Arkansas, listed as “Ph.D., Research Fellow, California Institute of Technology.”
2004: Seckel one of 163 members of Brockman's Edge group answering that year's question: "what's your law?" Seckel presents his two laws of visual perception. Other responders include Marvin Minsky, Freeman Dyson, Stephen Kosslyn, Jeffrey Epstein, Chris Anderson, Michael Shermer, Richard Dawkins, Ray Kurzweil, Lisa Randall, Craig Venter.
2004(?): Pat Linse contacted by a magician co-authoring book with Seckel who complained that he (the magician) was doing "99.99% of the work." Linse advised him to contact the editor or publisher himself to make sure he was credited, because Seckel was "famous for hogging credit." When published, Seckel was listed as sole author.
2005: Seckel joins millionairematch.com or similar millionaire dating website; posts boastful profile.
2005 June 29: Horace Freeland Judson e-mails McIver, saying of Seckel that he had “cause to distrust him.”
2005 Oct: Website "Al Seckel's Homepage of Illusions, Perception & Cognitive Science," at neuro.caltech.edu, featuring picture of Seckel with Richard Gregory and Priscilla Heard. Site copyrighted 2003-2006, and lists books by Seckel up to 2006, plus four more as “coming soon,” including “Your Mind's Eye: A Comprehensive Scientific Examination of Visual and Sensory Illusions. Boston: The MIT Press, (in progress).” These four never published.
2006: Updated entry for Seckel in Contemporary Authors (reference series) still claims Cornell BS, lists career as “physicist, educator, writer” and Caltech “instructor,” also CSICOP scientific and technical consultant and SCS exec director. (Information comes from authors themselves.)
2006 Jan: Seckel tells Beth White that he has a Cornell BS in physics and was Sagan’s teaching assistant, and has a PhD in “theoretical physics” from Caltech, where he studied string theory under Feynman—one of three students Feynman was advisor to. Also tells her he is good friends with Al Gore, Quincy Jones, and other celebrities.
2006 Feb 7: Seckel sends White documents purportedly showing he was Cornell honors student, and is now Caltech postgraduate scholar. Also tells her he invented a water levitating device and holds a patent on it.
2006 March 7: Seckel tells Beth White that he met with Steven Spielberg, who wants to buy one of his water levitation devices.
2006 March: Seckel visits Beth White in Atlanta. He persuades her to play phone prank on his friend Dan Meier, pretending to be one of his Pasadena City College students he has had sex with (sometimes joined by Seckel); according to White, Seckel is highly amused by this.
2006 March 16-19: Gathering for Gardner, for which Seckel claims to be a “principle organizer.” Seckel attends, but only after being warned by Tom Rodgers, one of the actual organizers, not to crash the event (according to Beth White, who attended with Seckel). Another G4G organizer says Seckel is a "trouble maker" who ran up a lot of bills they had to pay for. Mark Setteducati, the third organizer, is a friend of Seckel's.
2006 April 11: Seckel has meeting with Sony (probably including Tim Sarnoff) about doing feature animated film project with Robert Gonsalves (surrealist and illusionist painter) and Jay Redd (Sony computer animator).
2006 April 12: Seckel gives party (likely related to Sony project). Guest list: Robert Gonsalves, Jay Redd, Stephen Hawking, Matt Groening (Simpsons creator), Heather Thomas (actress, political activist), Skip Brittenham (Pixar director, husband of Thomas), Mike Farrell, Alex Chadwick (NPR journalist), Carolyn Jensen (producer, wife of Chadwick), Paul Kirkaas (Disney software engineer, former UN consultant), Robert Gillespie (population control expert), Martin Fisher (KickStart International founder), Lawrence Bender, Laurie David (producer, with Bender, of Gore's Inconvenient Truth film; wife of Larry David), Tom Van Sant (sculptor, conceptual artist), Arianna Huffington, Patty Fox (Academy Awards fashion coordinator), Peter Diamandis (X-Prize Foundation chairman and founder), Bonnie MacBird (screenwriter, producer), Charles Fleisher (comedian, actor), Donna Mills, Jolie Jones (actress, daughter of Quincy Jones).
2006 April 30: Seckel writes his own 3,500-word Wikipedia entry. Says he is “world’s leading authority on visual and other types of sensory illusions." Claims he is writing book for MIT Press, organized and co-wrote the 1987 Nobelist Supreme Court brief, and was a “Research Fellow” at Caltech but left in 2005 to pursue business and philanthropic ventures. Says his leukemia was in 1989 (cf. 1-18-08 entry). Says he is member of the Academy of Achievement (though not listed on their website), a "principal organizer" of the Martin Gardner conferences (cf. 3-16-06 entry), on the nominating board of the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship awards, and a consultant for TED.
2006 May: Wikipedia entry is edited, but still consists primarily of information from Seckel himself.
2006 June: Seckel arranges to purchase archives of William Provine with Ron Crowley through their Scientific Archives corporation. Crowley puts up money for purchase, but unbeknownst to Crowley, Seckel uses the money to purchase Provine archives with Paul MacCready instead. Title passes to MacCready in Dec. 2006.
2006 June: Seckel is presenter at Moses Znaimer’s IdeaCity conference (Toronto), listed as Caltech Research Fellow and "was a close student of the physicist Richard Feynman." Magician Franz Harary (who Seckel claims to have consulted for) and fitness expert Haley Borden also present.
2006 June 5: McIver proposes deletion of Seckel's Wikipedia entry on grounds it is self-written self-promotion containing misleading and false information. Wikipedia editors/administrators refuse to delete it and advise McIver to edit and correct it himself instead.
2006 June: McIver makes minor edits to "Al Seckel" Wikipedia entry; Seckel threatens to sue if entry not restored to original. Seckel posts libelous comments about McIver (e.g. that he “fabricated” Pearce Williams letter) in discussion pages. Wikipedia administrators remove many of these personal attacks, citing potential libel. Seckel asks that all of McIver's comments in talk pages be deleted, as well as his own "rebuttles" (realizing they are libelous). Some of the discussion archived here. More archived here.
2006 June 6: Seckel writes in Wikipedia discussion pages that he is already taking legal action against McIver for libel. (He reportedly pays Hornberger & Brewer a $10,000 retainer at this time. However, he waits over eleven months before actually filing suit, presumably to prevent possible libel countersuit given one year statue of limitations.)
2006 June 16: Paul MacCready e-mails McIver, asking for information about Seckel. MacCready had left phone message a couple of days earlier for McIver, asking him to phone back, and had just spoken with Pat Linse about Seckel (Linse had been trying to warn MacCready about Seckel, but he refused to believe her). McIver replies to MacCready's e-mail, but suspects it may have been dictated or written by Seckel to try to lure McIver into an incriminating response.
2006 July-Aug: Stephen Kosslyn sends three e-mails in reply to McIver, saying he has never heard of Seckel, nor has anyone in his lab. Seckel was claiming online to be working with Kosslyn at his Harvard lab.
2006 Sept: Robert Lang holds Origami Conference (4OSME), with evening reception at Seckel's “fabulous Balinese-themed Malibu house" with his “collection of world-class artwork.” In 2007 Seckel’s lawyers accuse McIver of trying to "infiltrate" this reception to spy on him, stating that they attended it themselves.
2006 Dec 7: Revised alt.com website profile for “BrainyPassionat” (Seckel); still claiming PhD, and boasting of having porno movies filmed at his house and always getting “friendly” with the actresses.
2006 (2007?): Seckel publishes his last optical illusion book (not including reprints and foreign editions, and later "Eye Wonder" e-books).
2007 March: Seckel and Isabel Maxwell listed as host committee members of X-Prize Foundations’s Radical Benefit for Humanity (X-Prize) hosted by Larry Page at Google headquarters. Speakers include Arianna Huffington, Paul MacCready, Burt Rutan, Craig Venter, Richard Branson, Robin Williams, Sergey Brin, Peter Diamandis, James Cameron.
2007 April: Seckel tells Ensign Consulting (via Adam Gold) about incredible rare book find in a European chateau, and a famous Isaac Newton portrait with Nathan Myhrvold as prospective buyer. (Myhrvold has visited Seckel; Ensign is a secretive investment entity based in British Virgin Islands and Guernsey in British Channel Islands.)
2007 Aug 8: Seckel sees critical JREF posts and threatens legal action: someone claiming to be Seckel’s lawyer--Seckel himself?—telephones [sic] JREF with legal threat. Posts are removed. JREF administrator then posts that she is impressed with Seckel after learning that he is a TED speaker.
2007 Aug: Seckel (“BrainyPassionat”) rejoins Alt.com, but now says he lives in Asadabad, Afghanistan, not Malibu.
2007 Aug 29: In Joint Conference Scheduling Report filed with court, Seckel lists his witnesses for Seckel v. McIver: Christof Koch, Dan Meier, Elie Shneour, first wife Laura Seckel, Bart Hibbs (AeroVironment), Joseph Kirschvink (Caltech), Bernard Leikind (UCLA), William Provine, third wife Denice Lewis, Murray Gell-Mann, Ron Crowley, L. Pearce Williams and his wife, Douglas Hofstadter, Joan Feynman (at JPL, Richard’s sister), Tom Van Sant (artist, inventor, scientist), John Edwards, Vilayanur Ramachandran. This report also lists Seckel's initial documents with descriptions, including two letters dated 3-13-85 and 1-2-86 from James Randi "discussing Plaintiff’s assisting Randi in securing Randi’s MacArthur fellowship."
2007 Sept: E-mail correspondence between Seckel and Shermer regarding McIver lawsuit and Linse’s evidence about Seckel. Shermer is extremely anxious to avoid entanglement in lawsuit and does not want to supply evidence; he is also upset and angry that Linse has become involved.
2007 Sept: Seckel's attorneys, seeking deeper pockets, demand that McIver check if his home insurance includes libel coverage so they can go after insurance company money. McIver finds out it does, so insurance company appoints an attorney to defend McIver but also represent the company.
2007: Seckel marries Isabel Maxwell, millionaire founder of high-tech and internet companies, and daughter of billionaire media mogul (and disgraced fraudster) Robert Maxwell. (Apparently Seckel's divorce from Denice Lewis was never finalized, so this marriage to Maxwell was not valid.) Isabel Maxwell lists current occupation as consultant for startup companies, philanthropies, and venture capitalists; and is described as a "serial entrepreneur."
2007: Seckel’s book Optical Illusions: The Science of Visual Perception selected one of Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers by American Library Association.
2007 Dec 13: Seckel files Response to First Set of Interrogatories, and also Response to First Set of Requests for Admissions (questions asked by McIver in discovery phase). He denies he ever lied about his academic credentials, ever made false claims about SCS non-profit status, or ever defrauded anyone (including Pearce Williams). Claims McIver contacted S.J. Gould about a Caltech lecture he gave, trying to persuade Gould to let him (McIver) share the stage as co-lecturer (in fact Seckel himself asked Gould to do this because SCS was not involved with the lecture, and was rebuffed; McIver made no attempt to communicate with Gould about this). Claims to have taken or "audited" many classes at Cornell through 1980, and at Caltech as a member of Feynman's "inner circle." Denies he pocketed any money from SCS, citing statements from Klass, Shneour, and Bart Hibbs that he actually donated money to keep SCS afloat. Claims an "audit" proved there was no financial impropriety at SCS (but see 5-15-93 entry).
2008 Jan 8: Deposed witness in Seckel v. McIver describes Seckel’s stunning dishonesty, and (after being grilled about alt.com by Seckel’s lawyer) mentions that Seckel liked women to urinate in his mouth. This witness also said Seckel wrote to her that he had embezzled money from SCS. Seckel falsely accused McIver of “recruiting” this witness to “feign” an intimate relationship with Seckel in order to spy on him.
2008 Jan 18: "Al Seckel" Wikipedia entry edited by 126.96.36.199 (Malibu IP address), changing leukemia onset from 1989 to 1990, and recovery from 1992 to 1994. (This shortly after Seckel provides evidence in lawsuit discovery that onset was actually 1991.)
2008 Jan 31-Feb 1: Pat Linse deposition in Seckel v. McIver (in two parts--second part here). Describes fraud and dishonesty she saw or heard about as SCS volunteer, and later as Skeptics Society art director. Shneour (SCS President/Chairman, 1988-1989) submits sworn declaration, claiming (non-existent) meetings and conversations with McIver, and that SCS was audited. Seckel’s lawyer asks Linse about alleged meeting with Shermer and his wife in which he told Linse not to “gossip,” to which she supposedly replied that she could release damaging information about him (Shermer); Linse denies saying anything like this. McIver’s lawyer objects to Seckel's behavior during deposition--intimidating Linse and disrupting the proceedings. Dan Meier and Bart Hibbs also submit sworn declarations; all three attest to Seckel’s honesty, in similar style.
2008 Feb 21: Seckel files Settlement Conference Statement, attributing McIver's criticism of Seckel to jealousy of his success and fame, and to a "malicious desire to injure." Accuses McIver of being an unbalanced stalker who spied obsessively on him, recruited collaborators to "feign" relationships with him, and of admitting to spending "150 hours tracking Plaintiff's acquaintances" in order to harass and defame him (this figure came from discovery question asking how much time McIver had spent researching Seckel; McIver's response, a guess, included time spent preparing his defense when sued, many months of which he was representing himself pro se).
2008 Feb 29: In expert witness information filing, Seckel lists Eli Shneour, Daniel B. Meier, Ronald Crowley, Michael Shermer, Christof Koch, Irving Biederman, Vilayanur Ramachandran, Richard Gregory, Patrick Cavanagh, Sheila Nirenberg, and Mark Setteducati as potential witnesses for him in Seckel v. McIver. Document also includes "Analysis of Economic Damages"--sworn testimony from CPA and professional witness Kenneth Creal, giving Seckel's average monthly net income from rare books business as $31,877 in 2007; average monthly gross profit from illusion business $19,611 for 2005-2006, and $2,763 for 2007. Alleges drop in illusion business was due to McIver’s defamation (but not mentioning that Seckel had stopped publishing illusion books), and that rare books business "profitability increased" in same period as it was not effected by the defamation. Title page of Creal's document states it was prepared for "Alfred Paul McIver" [sic].
2008 March: Seckel produces simultaneous declarations from Bart Hibbs, Dan Meier, Elie Shneour, William Provine, and Pearce Williams (and his wife), all similarly professing his honesty, and all ending with identical statements of truth under penalty of perjury. Provine and Williams both say Seckel took their upper level courses from 1976 to 1980 as well as other advanced Cornell courses; Shneour lies about meeting McIver. Later, Provine disavowed his statement (see 6-24-15), and Meier advised his son-in-law Bryan Howard to contact McIver when Seckel defrauded him. Williams' wife later spoke with Oppenheimer and Mciver, directly contradicting hers and her husband's written declarations, saying they realized all along Seckel was dishonest and a cheat, and failed as a student; telling McIver she didn't remember anything about the written declaration, which she said was completely wrong. Hibbs' statement is contradicted by sworn testimony from Linse and statements from other SCS volunteers. Shneour died 4-14-15, never admitting Seckel lied about his credentials.
2008 March: Seckel claims annual income in “mid-six-figure range” in lawsuit document.
2008 March 6: Settlement in Seckel v. McIver libel lawsuit. Case is dismissed with prejudice March 25, 2008. Seckel had initially demanded jury trial, but then demanded settlement after McIver produced massive evidence of his false credential claims and fraud. McIver's insurance company, which provided his defense lawyer, insisted he accept (saying they would not continue his defense if he refused, and might charge him for costs up to then--probably approaching $200,000). Settlement conditions included confidentiality agreement that neither party communicate about the other, that McIver destroy all documents and evidence pertaining to Seckel, and that insurance company pay $200,000 to Seckel. 2008 May: Isabel Maxwell promises to use her personal funds to cover any possible losses to Ensign Consulting.
2008 June: In e-mail to Gold, Seckel claims his computer crashed, resulting in loss of all data and records and requiring expensive repairs. Says he has no money. Says June 4 was first time Gold ever mentioned “Ensign” to him.
2008 July: Seckel offers Isaac Newton portrait to Michael Sharpe as collateral for $275,000 debt (for a manuscript he got from Sharpe in June 2008).
2008 Aug: Seckel joins Huffington Post, and posts first of three blog entries. Website bio says he stopped his Caltech research in 2005 to focus on philanthropy, and that he spends much time mentoring gifted students.
2008 Dec: Seckel pays Ensign $108,651, obtaining the money by pawning some of the rare books. No further payment to Ensign is ever made.
2009 Jan: Website for Seckel’s levitating water device (levitatingwater.com/creative-team.html) lists Ken Rosenthal as his partner. Also musician Dave Stewart, Ron Crowley, Risto Salo (entertainment design and engineering), Jeff Kunzelman ("serial entrepreneur," software designer and engineer). Website disappears soon after. Video clip of "Seckel's Levitating Water Machine” is distributed on YouTube sites with “Blair” (Golson) demonstrating the device. Later, after Rosenthal drops Seckel as licensee for non-payment, Seckel threatens to sue for intellectual property theft, even though Rosenthal was the inventor, and it was built and programmed by Ron Crowley, Jeff Kunzelman, and George Kaman.
2009 Feb 22: Facebook page for GlobalSolver Foundation, with Seckel listed as founder. Described as philanthropy with prizes and grant programs for ocean research and conservation. Co-founders: Isabel Maxwell and Catherine Mohr. “Admins”: Seckel, Maxwell, Mohr, Michael Thatcher, Blair Golson. CEO: Caren Edwards. Other Board members: Terry Temescu, Nancy Conrad, Ryan Wilson, Chris Adams. "GlobalSolver™ Foundation Ocean is supported by Microsoft and their Gold Star Certified team Neudesic..." Jesse Dylan (film director and producer, son of Bob Dylan) listed as member.
2009 June 19: Ron Crowley files complaint against Seckel in Orange County Superior Court for breach of contract regarding book and archive purchases. Seckel never paid sum agreed upon in settlement, claiming later he was destitute in France, and tried to offer the Newton portrait as collateral.
2009 Sept: Isabel Maxwell tweets about hosting Malibu dinner with Seckel for Jonathan Klein of CNN. Also tweets about continuing problems with “Al’s” kidney stones. On her Twitter page she titles herself “Technology Pioneer of the World Economic Forum,” and lists her website maxwell-communications.com.
2009 Sept 23: Seckel attends Clinton Global Initiative Awards in New York. Quincy Jones, who Seckel has befriended, is honored.
2009 Sept: Ghislaine Maxwell served subpoena at Clinton Global Initiative Conference in New York in connection with Jeffrey Epstein investigation.
2009 Oct 29: Seckel presents and hosts panel on information technology and education at internet entrepreneur Jeff Pulver’s 140-Characters conference; panelists include Arianna Huffington, Jonathan Klein (CNN chief), and Caprice Young (then with Milken Institute). (Video of event later removed. See also here.) Also gives presentation on illusions. Dozens tweet responses to Seckel's presentations, including Klein, who calls him "brilliant."
2009: Seckel and Maxwell move to 2401 Rambla Pacifico, Malibu, after eviction from Little Rock Way. (House listed in 2009 for $3,200,000.) Picture of magician Todd Reis at Seckel house party in 2010 here.
2010: Sharpe seizes Newton portrait for debt repayment, and sells it to Lou Weinstein of Heritage Bookshop for $320,000, giving Seckel $20,000 of the proceeds.
2010 Apr-May: Seckel presents at Gucci Group Conference (marketing with social media) in Miami. Other presenters: Simon Mainwaring (branding consultant, social media specialist), Bob Lord (AOL president, now with IBM), Bill Clinton.
2010 June 3: Isabel Maxwell attends Israel Conference in Los Angeles. She is listed on Advisory Board and Organizing Team for 2015 meeting.
2010 June: Seckel claims Newton portrait is still unsold, and that he can repay Ensign with profits from water venture (presumably levitating water device).
2010 June 29: Ghislaine Maxwell refuses deposition summons in Epstein case, claiming her mother is “deathly ill” and she must go to Europe and does not plan on returning to U.S.
2010 July 3: Seckel posts pictures of Joan Feynman and Saryl [Hirsch] Samuelson vacationing with him and Isabel Maxwell in France. Samuelson: Los Angeles tax servicer, wife of Peter Samuelson, film and TV producer, "serial pro-social entrepreneur."
2010 July 4: Seckel hosts Fourth of July party; guests included Milton Timmons.
2010 Oct 23: Seckel and Maxwell host Gathering for Gardner event at their “beautiful Malibu home.” Features Robert Lang and Chris Palmer origami displays and guest of honor Nolan Bushnell (Atari founder and entrepreneur). Attendees include Jeff Scanlan, Catherine Mohr, Stuart Anstis, Jonathan Delbruck, Solomon Golomb, Caprice Young, Irving Biederman, Brad Templeton, Arana Greenberg, Brock Pierce, Michael Kaliski, Victoria Skye, Amy Sterling Casil, Eric Gradman, Brian Deagon, Philip Lelyveld, Richard Blow, Glenn Kaino, Michael Naimark, Tony MacLaren, Salim Ismail, Sanford Climan, Todd Reis, and Allan Boardman. Seckel picturedhere. Partial attendee list here.
2010 Oct: Seckel interview is lead item on Jeffrey Epstein’s science website. Self-promotional claims here are similar to his original Wikipedia entry. Says he got funding for “massive interactive website on thinking skills” with friend Caprice Young (then with Milken Institute). Claims “Tommy” Gold was his Cornell advisor, and at Caltech he was in Feynman’s “very close inner circle” with Michael Douglas and one other person, spending hours with him “almost every other day.” Claims to be very close to Murray Gell-Mann, and friends with “Shelly” (Sheldon) Glashow, Lisa Randall, Sean Carroll, and Jimmy Wales.
2010 Oct 26: Former Caltech science writer Robert Finn, on Twitter, recommends his “friend” Seckel’s interview on Epstein’s science website. Caltech physicist Sean Carroll also recommends it on Twitter (though Carroll's wife Jennifer Ouellette later tells McIver she "loathed" Seckel and found him a "pompous crashing bore"--a "collector" of people he found "useful or prestigious" who tried--unsuccessfully--to "acquire" her husband). Joseph Kirschvink recommends it on his Caltech website.
2010 Nov 1: In post to math puzzle website, Seckel claims he is working with Epstein on his science website jeffreyepsteinscience.com and his philanthropy website jeffreyepstein.com.
2010 Nov 6: Seckel arranges and hosts "Mindshift" conference with Epstein at Epstein’s private island (US Virgin Islands). Murray Gell-Mann, Christof Koch, Catherine Mohr, Gerald Sussman, Frances Arnold, Leonard Mlodinow, Paul Kirkaas, Brook Pierce, Ron Reismann, Pablos Holman, Dan Dubos, Reichart Von Wolfsheild attend. (Photo of conference attendees posted 2-4-11 on Liz Seckel Facebook page.)
2011 June 8: Seckel responds to Ensign’s fraud charges by filing for Chap. 7 bankruptcy (just as Ensign is preparing to file motion for default judgment), with wife Maxwell listed as co-filer (spouse). Frank X. Ruggier, attorney. Seckel (and Maxwell?) apparently fly in from France to file this bankruptcy petition (per Ensign v. Seckel).
2011 Sept 16: Court in Ensign v. Seckel rejects bankruptcy claim, as Seckel and Maxwell never showed up for required meetings.
2011 Oct 3: Seckel and Maxwell file second bankruptcy claim. List residence as Residence de Europe [Hotel l'Europe], Apt. 3, 13 Rue du Henri Dunant, Castillonnes, France; and mailing address as 95 Hiller Dr., Oakland CA. Seckel claims $3,650 monthly income (royalties and consulting businesses); Maxwell claims 3,000 monthly income. Claim assets of $12,762, all exempt; $6,255 average monthly expenses (joint) and $395 joint monthly net income. $10,000 unsecured priority claim from IRS, for 2008 income taxes, and unsecured non-priority claims of $635,987 from 25 creditors listed. $1,259 seized from IllusionWorks by IRS in 2011; IllusionWorks now valued at $0, with Seckel sole shareholder. Maxwell listed as sole shareholder in Sea Basing Solutions holding company. Claim they "can no longer afford rent" or health insurance, and don’t have a car or any means of travel. Claim Seckel's brother is "mentally ill and relies on his help." [Listed hotel address is also home of Le Gourmet restaurant.]
2011 Oct 17: IP 188.8.131.52 (from Pontours, France) posts on composer Ruth Schonthal’s Wikipedia entry that Lady Gaga was her music student 2003-2005. Schonthal (d. 2006) is Seckel’s mother.
2011 Nov 30: Seckel gives lecture on “The Nature of Belief” at Stony Brook Univ.’s Simons Center for Geometry and Physics. Introduced by Prof. Mike Douglas, who speaks about his time at Caltech with Seckel and Feynman. 2011 Dec 2: Ensign Consulting files complaint against Seckel (and Maxwell) to determine non-dischargeability of debt in response to second bankruptcy filing. Seckel's address: 95 Hiller Dr., Oakland CA. This is residence of Christine Maxwell, Isabel Maxwell’s twin sister (house formerly owned by Roger Malina). Seckel and Maxwell listed as representing themselves (pro se). Complaint alleges false pretenses, false representation, actual fraud, fraud as fiduciary, embezzlement, larceny, and willful and malicious injury.
2011 Dec 16: In amended filing in bankruptcy claim Seckel says the $100,000 listed in original filing owed him by Firefly Publishing is actually owed to IllusionWorks and is "not property of and has no value to Debtor’s estate.” Seckel had claimed Firefly owed him this sum for royalties on Optical Illusions: The Science of Visual Perception, but refused to pay.
2011: LinkedIn profile for Seckel lists him as Founder, Chief Evangelist and Executive Director of GlobalSolver Foundation; and former Senior Advisor and Executive Director of X-Prize Foundation (Ocean). Also as President of IllusionWorks; Founder of EcoRocket; Board Member of Pete Conrad Foundation; and member of John Brockman’s Edge Group; the Milken Conference; Clinton Global Initiative; TED; METal (Media, Entertainment, Technology Alliance); Skoll Forum (social entrepreneurship); Gatherings for Gardner.
2011: Seckel’s daughter Elizabeth founds non-profit Neurotherapy International at UCSD to promote Ramachandrans’s mirror box therapy. Elizabeth Seckel is UCSD grad student and works in Ramachandran’s lab. Organization is funded in part by UCSD and associated with Clinton’s Global Initiative.
2012 Jan 5: McIver writes to judge in December requesting to modify or nullify confidentiality clause he was coerced into signing in Seckel v. McIver settlement, citing Ensign v. Seckel as evidence of continuing fraud by Seckel, and arguing that silencing and suppression of facts enables this. Cites libelous statements by Seckel as evidence he is violating confidentiality agreement, and appends Superior Court records showing long pattern of fraud accusations and legal intimidation (26 cases from that court alone). Judge does not reply; instead, letter and supporting documentation are posted on PACER.gov as "Notice of Document Discrepancies and Order--Rejecting" (defendants are not permitted to contact judge, but case was dismissed years prior and McIver had no attorney since then). Mistakenly, judge states that letter was submitted by Seckel--not Mciver.
2012 Jan 11: Seckel replies (late) to Ensign complaint, denies all accusations. Represented by David Lally of Irvine. Claims Isabel Maxwell not involved with any of his transactions.
2012 Jan 30: Seckel posts comments to Chris Mooney’s Facebook posting. McIver also comments, but his post is deleted within minutes. McIver posts additional comments (not mentioning Seckel), and is apparently “unfriended” by Mooney as a result.
2012: Olivier Taillieu and Raffi Zerounian, plaintiff's lawyers in ongoing fraud lawsuit against Seckel, leave firm of Zuber & Taillieu and form new firm, Taillieu Law.
2012 Sept 26: Nonprofit TerraMar Project launched at Blue Ocean Film Festival & Conservation Conf. in Monterey CA to protect high seas. Ghislaine Maxwell, founder and CEO. Supported by Sylvia Earle and Google Ocean.
2012 Dec: Eye Wonder Publishing, LLC, releases three e-books by Seckel, including one about the illusions of Jerry Andrus with contributions from Barry Brilliant and Mark Setteducati. Eye Wonder Advisory Board: Seckel, Setteducati, Nolan Bushnell (Atari founder), Shawn Carlson (former Scientific American columnist and MacArthur Fellow), Noah Falstein (video game designer formerly with DreamWorks and LucasFilm, now at Google), Roger Malina. “Authors”: Seckel, Elizabeth Seckel (daughter), Setteducati, Adrian Fisher (maze and puzzle designer), Ivan Moscovich (Israeli puzzle and game inventor), Kate Jones (Kadon gamepuzzles). Admins: Seckel, Isabel Maxwell, Todd Reis, Bea Krause, James Corrigan, Liz Seckel. Krause, now at Oxford, worked in Ramachandran's lab with Liz Seckel. Corrigan taught philosophy at Stony Brook Univ. and owns a hotel/b&b in Saint-Leon-sur-Vezere, Dordogne, France. Erich Friedman (math professor and puzzle designer) later added as author.
2012 Dec 11: Seckel posts on Paul Kurtz’s Facebook page about his first Eye Wonder book, urging readers to buy and promote it. Kurtz died Oct. 20, 2012.
2013: In updated profile on LinkedIn, Seckel describes himself as “author, vision/perceptual scientist, speaker” in San Francisco area, now with Eye Wonder Publishing and Super Smart Consulting Network (President), and as “behind the scenes expert networker” in philanthropy, as well as many other affiliations. Gives e-mail address as email@example.com. Lists 20 U.S. museums and other institutions where his illusion exhibits are displayed, and 14 in other countries.
2013 Jan: Seckel, via his attorney, announces he is “not at all interested in attending mediation” for Ensign v. Seckel.
2013 Jan 25: Seckel posts on Facebook discussion group about Feynman video series, calling Feynman "one of my closest mentors and friends" and saying: "We spent countless hours and days together." 2013 Feb: Seckel hosts Jonty Hurwitz, and features him on his Eye Wonder site.
2013 March 4: Seckel connects with Denice Lewis on LinkedIn.
2013 March: Via his attorney, Seckel claims he suffered heart attack from stress and has no medical insurance. Says he cannot travel to US for requested deposition because of lack of funds.
2013 March 16: Seckel's daughter Liz Seckel posts video clip from "La Roque-Gageac" of their French poodle on her Facebook page. 2-24-13 post describes poodle as "newest addition to our French family."
2013 Mar 17: Sophia Anastasia tweets Seckel asking when he will visit her in Holland. 2013 March 26: Grace Conyers posts on Google+ that she is about to meet with Seckel about a project to "bring to the attention of the public in a fun and dramatic way, some of these interesting principles, and new insights gleaned from the cognitive sciences."
2013 April: Seckel and Maxwell partner with Insanitek (Grace Conyers, President) to sell Paleolithic and Neolithic stone tools acquired in France (Flint Stone Tools). 2013 Apr 2: E-mail from Lally (Seckel’s attorney) to Zerounian (Ensign’s attorney) says Seckel and Isabel Maxwell are caring for Maxwell’s mother “full time so both Defendants cannot be here [i.e., the U.S., for depositions and evidence] at the same time. I am informed that no one else is available to take care of Ms. Maxwell’s 92 year old Mother" (but cf. 6-29-10 entry).
2013 April 9: In statement filed with court Seckel claims he cannot afford travel to U.S. for court-scheduled conference that month; demands video conference instead.
2013 April: Shawn Carlson posts on Facebook and his own website that he will be in France for three weeks staying at a castle. Does not name his host or identity the castle, but posts photos. McIver identifies the photos as luxury Château de la Malartrie in La Roque Gageac. Photos are then deleted, and Carlson "unfriends" McIver. Other guests hosted by Seckel at the chateau include magicians Bob Sheets, Lennart Green, Mark Setteducati.
2013 June 4: Conference and deposition scheduled in Ensign v. Seckel, but Seckel does not appear.
2013 June 24: Ensign files motion to compel (compel to attend hearing and deposition and to produce acceptable responses to discovery questions). Plaintiff’s lawyer says Seckel’s replies to discovery requests were totally unacceptable and obfuscatory, and should be stricken.
2013 July 31: Date of scheduled hearing and Seckel’s deposition for Ensign v. Seckel. Seckel does not appear.
2013 Aug 1: Post in Seckel's Eye Wonder Books website in the form of a dialogue between Seckel and his daughter. Mentions visiting caves in France, especially Font-de-Gaume near La Roque-Gageac, parties at Seckel's Malibu house, and daughter starting PhD program at UCSD and teaching about visual illusions.
2013 Aug. 6: Judge grants most of motion to compel, requiring Seckel and Maxwell to produce requested documents by Aug. 20 and appear for depositions by Sept. 15.
2013 Aug 7: Betty Maxwell, Isabel’s mother, dies in "Dordogne, France." Seckel and Isabel Maxwell were reportedly living with her in a chateau, or various chateaux.
2013 Aug. 21: Seckel’s deposition tentatively set for first week of Sept.
2013 Oct 30: McIver contacts journalist Mark Oppenheimer with information about Seckel's history of dishonesty and fraud. Oppenheimer had interviewed Seckel for previous articles about the skeptics, atheist, and freethought movements. 2013 Dec 5: Prof. Shimojo of Caltech responds to e-mail inquiry about Seckel’s continued claims of association with him and his lab: “This is all wrong, and we (and Caltech) asked him many times to remove that mentioning.”
2013: Geoff Miller comes across Seckel on Facebook and demands repayment for eight-year old bill, threatening to tell his business partners. Seckel pays.
2014 Jan 6: Seckel’s website, www.illusionworks.com, still comes up as the first result in Google searches on his name, but in the search results it is now titled “Sildenafil Ginkgo Biloba (Viagra/Erectile Dysfunction), sildenafil,” suggesting it was hacked. Website disappears 1-16-14 but returns to normal in March 2014.
2014 March 11: IGNITE21C registered as limited liability company in London. Isabel Maxwell and Al Seckel listed as company officers in corporate filings; business activity listed as "cultural education." IGNITE21C website says it is global investment company. Website, with ownership information hidden, features photos of unidentified chateau (Château de la Grénerie, in Salon la Tour, France, purchased in 2013 by Mesa Hotels and Resorts, Richard Daguise, CEO). Also shown: stone-age tools and archeological sites in the region (Dordogne).
2014 March 21: Ensign drops all charges against Seckel and Maxwell, claiming all matters were "amicably resolved," and that the dispute was the result of the "downturn in the economy in 2007-2008." (That Ensign dropped all charges is peculiar. PACER.com documents show that they had a powerful case against him that caused him to try to claim bankruptcy and flee to France, refusing to return for a court-ordered deposition. Having sworn to the court he was "destitute" and in debt, he could not have settled with Ensign through the court giving Ensign sufficient money to satisfy them, but he might have made a secret deal outside the court using hidden assets. Ensign has kept the identity of its members secret. The only identifiable signature in available court documents in Ensign v. Seckel is that of Anne E. Wilby, an agent of Ensign's and trust administrator at Stenham, an affiliated South African hedge fund and wealth management company.)
2014 March 27: A request for dismissal “with prejudice” in Ensign v. Seckel is filed in L.A. Superior Court. Seckel pressures Courthouse News to delete its article about the case. PACER.gov, the federal court website, though, still lists case as open, with last filing in 2013.
2014 Apr: PsyBlog (Jeremy Dean) website includes Seckel's 2004 TED talk in "How the Mind Works: 10 Fascinating TED Talks." 2014 May 27: Seckel e-mail to Jim Lippard: “My attorneys are now preparing a Criminal Complaint against McIver for so openly violating the Court Order (it is now a criminal offense), and will once again open the floodgates of a slander and defamation lawsuit against him and his family, and anyone else, who aids him willing in this process. This time he will not have his insurance company cover his defense. This time that axe will come down hard on him.” Seckel claims that the discovery process of his 2007 lawsuit against McIver “show[ed] that he fabricated letters from my old professors,” and that the “judge stated that this was the ‘worst case of slander and defamation’ that he had ever seen.” (See 7-20-15 entry for text of e-mail.)
2014 Oct: Oppenheimer's article about Seckel originally set to appear in new magazine, but canceled due to legal threats from Seckel. Article eventually scheduled for April publication in Tablet, but postponed due to more legal threats from Seckel.
2014 Oct: Robert P. Vermillion becomes involved with Seckel's Eye Wonder website (invited by "TR" [Todd Reis]), posting illusions from various sources. Reis now apparently running the website, which no longer sells e-books but continues to post visual illusions.
2014 Oct 26: Photos posted online of Seckel in spelunking gear at French caves on this date (see 10-18-15 entry).
2014 Dec: After many long Skype conversations, Seckel breaks off contact with reporter Mark Oppenheimer, now realizing the article he is researching will not be uncritical. Refers all further questions to his lawyer, top Hollywood power attorney Patricia Glaser. Oppenheimer submits written questions for Seckel to Glaser, but neither Seckel nor Glaser respond to them.
2014 Dec 8: Bryan Howard, Dan Meier's son-in-law, contacts McIver, saying Seckel owes him and his wife $15,000 but won't repay. Seckel had hosted him in France.
2015: IGNITE21C becomes member of Collectorsfolio, a peer-to-peer rare book club enabling private collectors to trade directly with each other, listing specialty as "history of science."
2015 April or May: Seckel reportedly goes hiking alone, and then goes missing. Monique Cruveilher, member of the Spéléo-Club de Périgueux in the Dordogne who is associated with Seckel in social media sites, leads local spelunkers in search of local caves but he is not found. Catherine Mohr allegedly also participates in search.
2015 May or June: Seckel's rental car found near cliff (see 3-16 entry).
2015 July 1: Seckel's body reportedly found at bottom of cliff by police (see 9-23-15 entry).
2015 July 20: Tablet online magazine publishes Mark Oppenheimer's article on Seckel, "The Illusionist." Article focuses on Seckel’s obsession with befriending, socializing with and gaining the confidence of celebrities and powerful and influential people in science, academia, entertainment, media, and the entrepreneurial world, often hosting them at his eclectic parties. Among his guests not mentioned elsewhere on this timeline: biologist David Baltimore (Nobelist, Caltech president), billionaire Elon Musk (PayPal, Tesla Motors, SpaceX), actress Sharon Stone, and musician Slash. Mentions that Gell-Mann, Koch, and Shimojo no longer endorse him, and that Pearce Williams' wife was pleased he has been exposed as owing money to them. Also mentions that it is "remarkably easy to find people who believe Seckel took their money," naming several. Includes quote from Denice Lewis that their divorce was never finalized (and Seckel denying they had been officially married). Notes that Seckel's attorney in Seckel v. McIver admitted that Seckel never paid his legal fees.
2015 July 20: Jim Lippard posts entry "Al Seckel Exposed" on his blog, announcing publication of Oppenheimer's "long-awaited" article about Seckel, which he urges all skeptics to read. Includes 5-27-14 e-mail Seckel sent him threatening him for posting critical comments and links and accusing him of "acting as Tom McIver's proxy." Lippard notes that Seckel relies on legal intimidation to silence critics, has misrepresented his credentials, and that many of his articles are at least partly plagiarized. He describes Seckel's cons as "affiliate fraud": skeptics and scientists deceived by a member of a group they identify with. Lippard says that his post (and Oppenheimer's article) "just scratches the surface of the Seckel story," and urges others who have been legally intimidated and threatened by Seckel to come forward now that Oppenheimer's exposé has been published.
2015 July 23: Italian illusion artist and researcher Gianni Sarcone posts in Facebook: "Faking credentials, plagiarism, and all sorts of naughty stuff... 'Another article that exposes Al Seckel, the man who claims being the 'world's greatest collector of optical illusions'..."
2015 July 24: McIver e-mails William Provine of Cornell asking him if he still stands by his sworn statement attesting to Seckel's brilliant college career at Cornell submitted to Seckel in Seckel v. McIver. Provine's reply: "No." (Provine died a month later, Sept. 1, 2015, from a recurrence of his brain tumor.)
2015 July 24: Stipulation filed in Ensign v. Seckel in which Seckel and Maxwell deny liability and fraud but make a "confidential Settlement Agreement" with Ensign. This involves non-dischargeable $350,000 judgment against Seckel to be paid according to agreed-upon schedule; if payments not made, Ensign can declare agreement in default and enforce the judgment. Judge grants Stipulation same day. Change of attorney motion also filed, with Ensign attorney Zerounian moving to new law firm. The Stipulation is dated March 21, 2014, just prior to Ensign's dropping of charges against Seckel. Proof of service notice for Stipulation filed August 19. This timing is odd because Seckel was reported dead July 1 (see 9-23-15 entry) and missing some months prior to that. 2015 Aug 3: "Ruotailfoglio" (not otherwise identified) posts in "talk" page of Seckel's Wikipedia entry that Seckel is a crook who "cannot return to the US because he would be arrested for fraud." He deletes this comment soon after.
2015 Aug 10: Oppenheimer's Tabletarticle now prefaced with: "[geoip-content country =”FR”]This article is not currently available in France[/geoip-content." (Later removed.)
2015 Sept 18: Website alseckel.net appears as memorial site for Seckel, saying he died in France but giving no date or cause of death, and no information about authorship or ownership of site. In the memorial obit, Maxwell is referred to as Seckel's "partner" (not wife). Link to this website is immediately added to Seckel's TED speaker bio page. Photo section shows Seckel with Richard Feynman, Paul MacCready, "Gerry" Sussman, Tobi Delbruck, Max Delbruck, Eric Mjolsness, Jonathan Miller, Dudley Moore (off camera), Murray Gell-Mann, Richard Dawkins, Francis Crick, Patricia Churchland (off camera), Steve Allen, Elie Shneour, Richard Gregory, "Pricilla Coates" (sic—actually Priscilla Heard), Muhammad Yunus, Stephen Hawking, Quincy Jones, Carl Page (brother of Larry), Zirayr Zorthian, Pablos Holman, Mark Setteducati, Lennart Green.
2015 Sept 20: First 19 comments in "guest book" section posted; 15 more follow next few days. Commenters include Jerry Peluso, TV producer with whom Seckel was reportedly planning a TV series; Amrit Shafrir, internet and mobile entrepreneur; Marcia Southwick, retired creative writing professor, jewelry designer; Daniel Dubno, former CBS new technology specialist, professional "connector"; Ron Diamond, animation film producer, Acme Filmworks; Terry Temescu, venture capitalist; Chris Boardman, film writer, scorer, editor; Brad Templeton, software designer and entrepreneur, Singularity Univ. computing chair; Peter Samuelson, social entrepreneur, TV and film producer; Steve Zwart, high school classmate; Arthur Shapiro, vision scientist, cognitive neuroscientist, American Univ.; Chemi Peres, Israeli venture capitalist; Gianni Sarcone, Italian illusion and puzzle designer; Don Levy, media entertainment and technology marketer, formerly at Sony; Salim Ismail, investor, entrepreneur, founding Exec. Dir. of Singularity Univ.; Glenn Farrington, screenwriter, internet marketer; Rose Shuman, technology and management consultant; Steve Lavi, Israeli and Palo Alto venture capitalist, longtime TED participant; Jacques Walter, owner Chalet à St-Gervais Mont-Blanc (where Seckel stayed); Howie Hubberman, Guns 'N Roses financier and producer; Forsan Hussein, Israeli venture capitalist; Leif Kaldor, entertainment and TV producer, director; Sophia Anastasia, Dutch artist, longtime resident of Bali; James and Zem Joaquin, internet and technology venture capitalist, start-up entrepreneurs, HuffPo style editor; Tanya Thompson, toy and game developer (visited Seckel in France); Haley Borden, celebrity Pilates trainer; Nancy Bushnell, wife of Atari founder and entrepreneur Nolan Bushnell (visited Seckel in France).
2015 Sept 20: Motivational speaker John Pullum posts message about Seckel's death ("It was nice knowing you, Al...").
2015 Sept 20: Magician Todd Reis posts on Eye Wonder Facebook page that Seckel is reported dead. Says he met him in 2000 and attended several of his parties. Explains that Seckel started Eye Wonder website for his e-books, and asked him to administer it, and that Seckel let the e-book site lapse but that he (Reis) is continuing to post about illusions on its Facebook page.
2015 Sept 20: Todd Reis posts on his own Facebook page: "Apparently friend Al Seckel has passed away in France. His death appears to be real, but for those who knew him, for better or worse, it would not surprise us if this was another illusion of his."
2015 Sept 20: Brock Pierce, internet entrepreneur and former child actor, posts on Facebook about Seckel's reported death; says he will miss him greatly. 2015 Sept 20: Shawn Carlson posts obituary from this memorial on Facebook. Other people reporting Seckel’s death via e-mail state variously that he died from a heart attack, hiking fall, or spelunking accident (and that he had been missing since spring). Some speculate non-accidental cause of death.
2015 Sept 21: Atlanta magician Victoria Skye posts on Eye Wonder website about Seckel's death; message reposted on Facebook (by Todd Reis). Speaks of her friendship with Seckel, attendance at Gatherings for Gardner with him, and visiting Magic Castle in Hollywood with him as guests of magician Max Maven.
2015 Sept 22: An excerpt from this memorial appeared as an obituary in the San Gabriel Valley Tribuneshortly thereafter, directing donations to the American Heart Association and to LabRats (Shawn Carlson’s organization). The obit was reportedly submitted by Isabel Maxwell. 2015 Sept 22: Jimmy Wales jumps into discussion in "talk" pages of Seckel's Wikipedia entry, telling McIver he shouldn't comment even in the talk pages because Seckel had sued him. (McIver was commenting on dispute regarding date of death.) McIver notes that Seckel claimed Wales was a friend of his, but Wales then denied this, telling McIver not to post any more about Seckel.
2015 Sept 23: McIver contacts American Embassy in France inquiring whether Seckel’s death had been reported there. They reply that French police reported his death on July 1st, and that they “found his body at the bottom of a cliff in the village of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie." Lippard adds this information as update to his 7-20-15 blog post, and to "talk" page of Wikipedia (McIver not being allowed to post himself). Twelve minutes after this message, consular staff sends another reply saying "Please disregard our previous message sent in error. French police has confirmed Mr. Seckel’s death on July 1, 2015. We are unable to send you any further information due to the Privacy Act."
2015 Sept 23: Howie Hubberman posts on Facebook about Seckel's death, saying his "legendary parties" included guests such as Crick, Gell-Mann, David Copperfield, Slash, C.C. DeVille (guitarist of Poison), and himself. Two days later posts "As controversial as Al's life, so is Al's death" (referring to Lippard's blog post update about French police finding his body, as reported to McIver).
2015 Sept 24: "Ruotailfoglio" posts in "talk" pages of Seckel's Wikipedia entry that a "close friend" of Seckel's told him he fell off a cliff and died but was not found for some time. On Sept. 20 he had posted on the talk pages that Seckel died in the spring while hiking in France.
2015 Sept 25: Asia Carrera-Lemon, former porn star, posts in Facebook about Seckel's death, saying "he was so brilliant I can't list all the things he accomplished," and regretting not taking up his open invitation to to "visit him and his wife in their castle in France." 2015 Sept 28: Magician Joseph Fox posts on GeniiForum blog about Seckel's death. A high school classmate, he had performed magic tricks at Seckel's home parties. Richard Kaufman refers to Seckel as a "con man," and "an even bigger fraud and bully than the other article described."
2015 Oct: American living in France gets e-mails from someone residing next door to Château de la Malartrie in La Roque-Gageac that Seckel is renting, saying that he committed suicide in a cave, and that this information comes from Isabel Maxwell. This expat also says a guide for the local spelunking club had requested that he accompany him on Seckel's cave tours, because Seckel was "crazy," and dangerously reckless while spelunking. Seckel had persuaded this expat to give him computer assistance for his Eye Wonder e-books venture, but that collaboration fell through and he broke off the relationship. 2015 Nov 13: Isabel Maxwell declared bankrupt by British court. London address given for Maxwell. Owner of chateau she and Seckel were renting in France says they left owing him "thousands of euros." 2015 Dec 15: Daily Mail article about Isabel Maxwell bankruptcy. No mention of Seckel.
2015 Dec: Unconfirmed sighting of Seckel in a nearby town by someone who knew him in La Roque-Gageac.
2015 Dec 39: Bryan Howard posts on Isabel Maxwell's Facebook page: "Isabel and Al Seckel you came to us pleading to borrow a large sum of money, then you file for Bankruptcy after we handed over the cash.. The both of you are true con-artist and the world needs to know. Everyone please share this link."
2016 Jan. 22: Court grants Stipulation filed in Ensign v. Seckel. Oddly, this order is identical to the one filed and dated 10-5-2015. As with earlier order, copies sent to David Lally (Seckel's attorney, though he withdrew from the case--see 10-7-2013 entry), and to Seckel and Maxwell at 95 Hiller Dr., Oakland CA address.
2016 Jan 24: Ludina Delbruck Sallam (daughter of Max Delbruck) adds comment to Seckel memorial site (see 9-20-2016 entry), thanking him for his parties (Fourth of July, magic party, his wedding) and for entertaining her widowed mother. 2016 Feb 16: First notification of strike-off action in London Gazette (Section 1000) for IGNITE21c, Seckel and Maxwell's investment company. This indicates either that company has applied for dissolution, or that required financial information was not received ("possibly for failing to comply with filing rules").
2016 Feb 26: Shawn Carlson posts comment on Facebook: "The style of his scientific bravado, his natural loquaciousness coupled with his effervescent charm reminds me a great deal of a man I knew who recently committed suicide when his lifetime of lies and cons caught up to him." When asked who this was who committed suicide he replied: "I've said all I'm going to say about it. I'm close to his family. I'm not going to put them through more pain by going public with the details."
2016 March 4: IGNITE21c listed as "accounts overdue."
2016 March: A European who lived near Seckel and Maxwell in La Roque-Gageac says Seckel's death was not officially reported, but that the local newspaper L'Essor Sarladais reported that French police found his rental car near a cave. Also says reports of his death come only from Maxwell, who is now living in Washington, and that many who knew him in France suspect he faked his death to avoid creditors.
2016 May: U.S. State Dept. website listing deaths of all U.S. citizens who die in a foreign country from an "non-natural cause" shows no death corresponding to reported date and place of Seckel's death (summer 2015, Dordogne region).
2016 May: U.S. Consulate in Marseilles (consular district that includes the Dordogne region) replies to telephone inquiry saying they can confirm Seckel's death, but cannot reveal date, place, or cause of death, or any other information. When asked where information of the death came from, they replied it could have been police, a family member, or other sources.