"The Illusionist" Master of Deception "...name-droppy" "a legend in his own mind" "Dr." Seckel and Mr. Fraud
Al Seckel chronology
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1958 Sept 3: Alfred Paul (Al) Seckel born to artist Paul Seckel, who signed his works "Ravelle," and Ruth Schonthal, composer and pianist. Both were born in Germany and became students at Yale.
1976: Seckel applies for admission to Cornell. Is not accepted, but persuades admissions staff to admit him provisionally.
1976: Seckel graduates from New Rochelle High School. Among his classmates: Jonathan Klein, Paul Kirkaas Varvayanis (now Paul Kirkaas), and Joseph Fox. Seckel later borrows $15,000 from classmate Valerie Gardner, a lawyer and investment advisor, apparently without repaying.
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.
1978: Seckel attends fall semester as “special student.” Takes only German, gets D. End of Cornell attendance. (Seckel had his Cornell records sealed in 1990 when people suspicious of his academic claims began to contact Cornell. He claimed to have graduated in 1980 with a degree in both math and physics and to have taken many advanced courses. The records were obtained by subpoena, over his strenuous objections and after much delay, in Seckel v. McIver discovery.)
1979 March 23: Isaac Newton portrait by Geoffrey Kneller, a studio copy of his original 1689 "Portsmouth" portrait, formerly owned by the Viscounts Galway, sold at auction by Christie's in London. Acquired by Martayan Lan in 2004 and later sold to Seckel.
1979 April: Laura Mullen is second place winner in Cornell college book collecting competition, with books about Bertrand Russell. First place winner Jay Landsman's subject is 19th-century British biology; he worked with Prof. William Provine, who has huge collection on the subject, and went to Europe for collecting trips.
1980 June: Seckel marries Laura Mullen (Cornell ’79).
1980 or 1981: Seckel visits Bertrand Russell Archives (McMaster Univ., Ontario) with his wife Laura.
1980: Suzy Shaw, formerly married to Greg Shaw of Bomp Records, begins relationship with Brett Gurewitz of punk-rock band Bad Religion. She continues to help Greg run Bomp.
1981 June: Seckel elected Vice-Director of American Atheists’ Los Angeles chapter. Dick James elected Director.
1981 Nov 9: In letter to Dick James, Madalyn Murray O’Hair accuses Seckel of plagiarism in article about Hypatia published in The Humanist (she and Queen Silver had both previously written about Hypatia).
1981 Nov 22: Seckel and other officers of American Atheists L.A. chapter resign following dispute with national leader O’Hair. Atheists United formed soon after as independent group.
1981-1984: Seckel writes flyers for Atheists United, some co-authored with AU director John Edwards.
1982: Seckel gives speech for Atheists United at an Orange County high school.
1982: Seckel quoted (see March 13, 2013 blog entry) as saying he hosted 1982 Jerry Andrus lecture at Caltech (perhaps referring to 1985 SCS lecture?).
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).
1984-1985: Magicians Penn and Teller performing in Los Angeles-area theaters before their move to off-Broadway. Seckel claims 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. (Penn and Teller did give out complimentary tickets to friends, but attendance was good.)
1984-1985 winter: Seckel writes article for Russell: The Journal of Bertrand Russell Studies, giving his affiliation as "California Institute of Technology."
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?: In her 2007 book about Bomp, Suzy Shaw writes that “immediately” after breaking up with Gurewitz, she headed to Caltech to go “boyfriend shopping” and “within a week” was “helping to run” SCS. At SCS she became friendly with Crick and Watson, Gell-Mann, and especially Dawkins.
1985 Apr 21: Los Angeles Times article reports that Seckel has Cornell physics degree, lives in Redondo Beach.
1985 May: Article about SCS in Engineering & Science (Caltech alum magazine) by Robert Finn, writer for Caltech Media Relations.
1985 June: Seckel scheduled to present at CSICOP International Convention in London.
1985 July: At California public curriculum hearings Seckel claims he worked with Carl Sagan at Cornell and is grad student at Caltech; this is reported in fall California Science Education newsletter.
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 June 26: Seckel debates creationist Duane Gish in ACLU-sponsored event.
1986 Aug: James Randi wins MacArthur Fellowship. Seckel had written to him earlier claiming he was a MacArthur 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 Oct: John Edwards listed as SCS Treasurer.
1986 Nov: Smithsonian article on perpetual motion machines describes Seckel as “physicist.”
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 5: McIver sends letter to selected SCS and CSICOP members about Seckel, criticizing him for self-promotion, publicity seeking, misrepresenting himself, and taking credit for work of those assisting him. (McIver had already been corresponding with several CSICOP leaders, and wrote articles for their journal in 1986 and 1988.)
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 in 1986).
1987 May 10: Prof. L. Pearce Williams of Cornell give SCS lecture.
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. Director, 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 1: SCS non-profit status is revoked by the State of California because Seckel never provided any of the required financial information.
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., his 1997(?) 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 Feb-May: Seckel writes column for Santa Monica News (Linda Feldman, ed.). All his articles describe SCS as tax-exempt non-profit organization.
1988 April 8: New York Times article by Robert Reinhold describes Seckel as “physicist” and director of SCS.
1988 April 13: Pearce Williams lectures to SCS for second time. Two days later he is featured speaker at SCS banquet.
1988 April 17: Los Angeles Times article on superstitions mentions Seckel’s big house and antique furniture collection.
1988 May 25: Seckel lectures in Santa Monica News building, this is witnessed by McIver. Lecture host Linda Feldman introduces Seckel in highly laudatory terms, saying he has near doctorate in both physics and molecular biology at Caltech. Next day McIver asks Feldman where her information about him came from; she replied that just prior to the lecture, Seckel handed her a written introduction he had written himself, telling her to read it instead of what she had prepared.
1988 May-Aug: SCS Laser newsletter prints 1987 financial statement, which Mark Plummer of CSICOP said was false (for instance, it included claim of payment to CSICOP’s Prometheus Books which was never made).
1988 June 1: Seckel’s lawyer sends letter to McIver promising to sue for libel if he continues to criticize Seckel (referring to McIver’s Jan. 5 letter). Letter claims McIver accused Seckel of (among other things) “plagiarism”—though McIver had never mentioned plagiarism (rather, he had complained of Seckel “taking credit for work of those assisting him”).
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 July: Los Angeles magazine article reports that Seckel is a Cornell graduate in math and physics.
1988 Aug 1-3: Seckel is speaker at Humanist World Conference (hosted by Paul Kurtz), on Bertrand Russell.
1988 Oct 1: McIver letter to Seckel responding to lawsuit threat; McIver states his criticisms are demonstrably true or legitimate opinion, and that he can document them. (McIver also refers to 2-26-87 letter Seckel sent McIver in response to his 1-5-87 letter.)
1988 Oct 4: Altadena/Pasadena Weekly article quotes Seckel, describing 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. director she would get $30,000. (SCS positions are all volunteer and unpaid, so any money gotten personally would be fraudulently obtained. Linse refuses this offer.) 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. Article by Seckel 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 expenses are flyers and “possibly” honoraria. Says State of California funds SCS, and it is easy to get $400-600 per lecture.
1988: Seckel has entry in Contemporary Authors reference series, listing education as 1980 Cornell BS. (Information comes from the authors themselves.) Describes books he is supposedly writing.
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 Cal Tech (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]. Crichton had planned to speak about fraud in science and to criticize dogmatic skepticism.
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 supplement) says Seckel has Cornell math and physics degree and was doctoral candidate at Caltech.
1989 Sept 10: Seckel gives SCS lecture.
1989 Oct 21: Douglas Hofstadter gives SCS lecture.
1989: Seckel still claiming non-profit status in SCS newsletter Laser and elsewhere.
1989: British Museum buys 16th century clock from Seckel.
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 May 3: McIver delivers written material and documents from Linse and SCS volunteers criticizing Seckel for mismanagement to Klass at CSICOP conference. At conference, Kurtz tells McIver that CSICOP non-response is moot because Seckel told him he has terminal cancer.
1991 May 5: Klass threatens to sue Moseley if his Saucer Smear pursues Seckel affair.
1991 May, June, Sept: Seckel seen at Kaiser Hospital Sunset and Southern Calif. Permanente Med. Group Sunset.
1991 Spring: Seckel no longer listed as CSICOP "Scientific and Technical Consultant" in Skeptical Inquirer. Seckel had been listed since 1987.
1991 June 19: Letter from Feynman’s secretary Helen Tuck to McIver about Seckel confirms Seckel’s dishonesty about his Caltech status, and says Feynman immediately stopped seeing him upon finding out he was a fraud.
1991 June: Super-model Denice Lewis leaves London for Hollywood, hoping for new acting career. She had dated celebrities such as George Hamilton, Dodi Fayed (who was obsessed with her), Pierce Brosnan, Tim Jefferies, Steve Wyatt, and Timothy Dalton. Lewis says she was "Europe's highest paid catwalk model" for over a decade.
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 Fall: Robert Anton Wilson prints story about Seckel in his Trajectories newsletter; mentions fraud, phony credentials, and CSICOP’s non-reaction.
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. She and Shermer then partner to found Skeptics Society, a new group with CSICOP support which he assures her Seckel is not connected with, and they become co-publishers 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 Seckel supporters 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 Sept: Letter from Steve Allen to McIver stating he too had suspicions about Seckel, and hoped to investigate.
1992 Sept 4: Best Service Co. files complaint against Seckel.
1992 Sept 9: Public Serv. Mutual Insurance Co. files claim against Seckel and Blumka.
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 a very close friend of 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 Fall: McIver’s reply to Shermer’s 1991 ST&HV article finally published, but with all criticisms of Seckel edited out.
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).
1994 Dec 27: Texas Commerce Bank National files complaints against Seckel and Douglas and Martha Lorah (occupants of 664 Alameda St., Altadena).
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. Blumka re sale of 16th-century clock; Seckel’s lawyer is sanctioned for making false accusation of document forgery (claiming letterhead from Seckel stating “Museum Quality Antique Clocks, Furniture, and Rare Books" was counterfeit). 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). Elsewhere, Seckel is listed as President, and Dave Flowers as Chairman and webmaster.
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 [sic] 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?: Website "Al Seckel's Richard Feynman" contains anecdotes written by Seckel about his personal relationship with Feynman. Prefaced with statement: "Al Seckel was a close friend of Richard Feynman during the 1980s. Seckel is currently trying to determine the neural correlates of visual and other sensory illusions in the Koch Laboratory, Division of Computational and Neuronal Sciences, California Institute of Technology. He is also writing a book on this subject for The MIT Press. He has also amassed the world's largest collection of illusions on the internet at Illusionworks."
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.
1997 Feb 25: Shneour writes letter to Shermer defending Seckel. He claims that someone (McIver) is defaming Seckel, and says he made an "informal audit" of SCS himself that proved there was no wrongdoing. (Transcript of this letter here.)
1997 June 23: Seckel files claim against Winifred Bock.
1997 July 7: Bock files claim against Seckel.
1997 Dec: Seckel files charges against Blumka in appeals court.
1997?: Seckel reputedly offered lucrative lawsuit settlement but does not accept it.
1997-1998: McIver posts criticisms of Seckel in skeptic list groups; several skeptics who knew Seckel concur with him.
1998: Seckel says he gave invited lecture at Escher Centennial Congress (Rome). The book of articles from the conference, however, does not mention him.
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).
1998 Sept 21: Seckel writes to James Watson about death of Manny Delbruck (wife of Max Delbruck), asking for signed copies of his landmark 1953 Nature paper and his Double Helix book to sell, with proceeds to go to charity.
1999: Denice Lewis has small role as Schwarzenegger’s wife in film End of Days.
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"; his law firm later sues Seckel (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 owed 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.
2000: Seckel’s first illusion book published, which he boasts is the "best published collection so far." Others published 2001, 2002, 2004 (4), 2005 (7), 2006 (2); some overlapping material. Seckel bills himself as "Caltech cognitive vision scientist Al Seckel, the world's leading authority on illusions." There are many complaints that these books, and Seckel's IllusionWorks website, contain illusions that Seckel copied without permission--though he aggressively claimed proprietary rights in his website--and that much of the text was actually written by others who were uncredited.
2000 Feb 9: 694 Wendover Drive, La Cañada Flintridge, sells for $1,250,000 (Ron and Marilyn Crowley listed as buyer, but Seckel lives there).
2000: Religion reporter Mark Oppenheimer visits Al Seckel at his La Cañada Flintridge residence for interview on history of atheist movement.
2000 March: Seckel visits Vittorio Luzzati in Centre for Molecular Genetics, France, who lends him papers and photos of Rosalind Franklin, with Seckel’s wife (Klarke) photographing them. Seckel is collecting original material for archives of famous molecular biologists with $1.5-million from collector Jeremy Norman. Luzzati claims originals were never returned (only some inferior copies).
2000 April: Fate magazine article quotes Fritz Stevens of CSICOP’s Center for Inquiry West (Los Angeles) as saying SCS collapsed because of “scandal.”
2000 June: Shermer writes in Fate magazine denying any connection between his Skeptics Society and Seckel’s defunct SCS.
2000 Aug: Seckel goes on dinosaur dig with Jack Horner in Montana. Nathan Myhrvold, Larry Boychuk, and Seckel's daughter Elizabeth also attend.
2000 Fall: Paul MacCready takes Hans Albert Beller and William Wylam to visit his "good friend Al Seckel, a cognitive neuroscientist at Caltech," at his house "overlooking the Rose Bowl."
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: Seckel at two week session of Institute for Educational Advancement in Pasadena mentoring gifted children.
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 July 26-29: Seckel gives lectures at Singapore Science Center. Billed as "Research Fellow in the Division of Cognitive and Neuronal Systems at California Institute of Technology."
2001 Aug: Horace Freeland Judson visits Seckel in connection with molecular biology archives.
2001 Aug 21: Seckel files claim against Paul Brancato re IllusionWorks.
2001 Sept: Seckel visits Murray Gell-Mann at Santa Fe Institute, staying at his house.
2001 Oct 5: Les King (Working Design) files complaint against Seckel.
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. Al Seckel, California Institute of Technology." 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.
2001: Seckel participates in Edge Foundation’s “Annual Question.”
2002 Feb 20: $53,500 Federal defense contract awarded to IllusionWorks (694 Wendover Rd., La Cañada Flintridge), Dept. of the Army listed as purchaser.
2002 Oct 4: Relco Industries (Rudolph J. Lowy) wins judgment of $182,914 against Seckel's IllusionWorks. Apparently Seckel never pays.
2002 Oct 15: David Gerstel and Biblio Fund file complaint against Seckel.
2002 Oct 21: IllusionWorks Traveling Exhibit Venture files as LLC. Seckel: registered agent. IllusionWorks forms "strategic partnership" with Sparks Exhibits and Piper Productions.
2003 Jan 23: Seckel gives lecture at Harvard Univ., hosted by vision scientist Patrick Cavanagh of the Psychology Dept.
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: April-June: Caltech and Art Center College of Design (Pasadena) co-host exhibit, Seckel has entry. Seckel later cites his listing in the program as proof of his Caltech affiliation (though listing does not give any affiliation for him, but does for all the other participants).
2003 Apr 25: Christie’s auction of Jeremy Norman’s collection of molecular biology archives scheduled for this date, but is canceled because of Seckel’s complaint to Christie’s. Scientists who sold archives to Seckel had been promised the collection would be kept together and made available to the public.
2003 May 8: Norman sues Seckel in California Superior Court (San Francisco) alleging he reneged on promises related to purchases of molecular biology archives from various scientists with funds provided by Norman, and interfered with Norman’s sale of the archive.
2003 May 9: Alice Irene Seckel files for name change back to Alice Irene Klarke in New Mexico. Previously she lived with Seckel in La Cañada Flintridge. Klarke never responded to later inquiries about Seckel.
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 rare documents and 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.” Seckel identifies himself as a "cognitive neuroscientist from the California Institute of Technology and a dealer in rare scientific documents."
2003 July 31: Heritage Bookshop (Beverly Hills) files complaint against Seckel.
2003 Sept 5: After entering plea of "nolo contendere" (no contest), Seckel is found “Guilty/Convicted” (disposition) of Sec 273.5(A)—inflicting corporal injury on spouse. This is normally a felony charge, but judge apparently reduced Seckel's sentence to a non-felony. Posted $50,000 bail, three year summary probation. Case number GLN3GL02585-01 [B27287201], filed 6/6/03.
2004: Seckel publishes Masters of Deception book with foreword by Douglas Hofstadter. Gives his affiliation as “Koch and Shimojo laboratories, California Institute of Technology”; lists Alice Klarke and Andish Martensson as graphic artists; also lists Mark Setteducati, Martin Gardner, Ken Rosenthal, Doris Schattschneider, and Keith Kay for contributions. Illusion artists in book: Arcimboldo, Dali, Escher, Sandro Del Prete, Jos De Mey, Robert Gonsalves, Matheau Haemakers, Ken Knowlton, Scott Kim, Guido Moretti, Vik Muniz, Istvan Orosz, John Pugh, Oscar Reutersvärd, Roger Shepard, Dick Termes, Rex Whistler.
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 Jan 27: Seckel gives lecture at Boston Univ., describing himself as “Professor Al Seckel, Caltech” in poster for event displaying official Caltech logo. Says he is Caltech “Research Fellow” in “Div. of Computational and Neuronal Systems" and is "finishing a comprehensive academic treatise for MIT Press." In his website Seckel quotes Sheldon Glashow of BU as saying: "I am still getting compliments for your superb lecture at Boston University."
2004 Feb: Seckel gives TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) talk in Monterey. Uses some illusions created for him by Scott Kim. Transcript here.
2004 Feb 9: Jessy D. Dorn (UCLA neuroscientist) files complaint against Seckel. Wins judgment against Seckel but is never able to collect.
2004 Feb 10: Press release announcing upcoming installation of Seckel's IllusionWorks exhibit at Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum, funded by $10,000 grant from Ronald McDonald House Charities. Seckel described as "world's leading authority on illusions" who has lectured at the world's most prestigious academic institutions.
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 member "Topaz." Describes Seckel 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. House is owned by Corinne Brodbeck, former actress now living in Bali. Lewis became enamored with Bali after visiting there in the '80s.
2004 July 30: Relco Industries and Rudolph Lowy file complaint against Seckel for fraud; Norman Kaderlan is served for IllusionWorks.
2004 July/Aug: Seckel writes "Brain Bender" column for National Geographic Kids magazine.
2004 Sept 14: Seckel gives illusion lecture at Cornell, described by Seckel as “the Presidential Lecture,” hosted by Cornell President Jeffrey Lehman. Lehman also hosts Cornell “Presidential Dinner” honoring Seckel (according to Provine in court testimony). Seckel billed as "a scientist in the California Institute of Technology's Division of Computational and Neuronal Systems." Lehman, who resigned the presidency within a year, never responded to later inquiries about his association with Seckel. He had been friends with Seckel since the 1980s.
2004 Oct 1: Denice Lewis files for divorce from Seckel. 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 after completion of four years of college, and a PhD degree after three years of graduate school. 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 Nov 15: Anders Martensson files complaint against Seckel and IllusionWorks.
2004 Nov 23: Seckel’s house (listed under Ron and Marilyn Crowley's name), 694 Wendover Rd., La Cañada Flintridge, sells for $2,285,000. (This house, given as business address for some of Seckel's legal entities) is just a few houses away from Saint Katherine Drive house.)
2004 Nov 24: “Registered agent” of IllusionWorks LLC resigns.
2004 Dec: Geoff Miller, on his Mad Cow website, posts comments describing how Seckel defrauded him for Mac computer work he did for him.
2004 Dec: Discover magazine article commemorating Einstein by “some of the world’s greatest scientific minds” —including Seckel. Seckel also claimed elsewhere to be authoring Discover’s “NeuroQuest” column (actual author is Eric Haseltine).
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. Allegedly, many of Seckel's books were largely written by others who were never credited for authorship, or composed largely of uncredited sources.
2005: Seckel joins millionairematch.com or similar millionaire dating website; posts boastful profile.
2005 Jan 21: Brian Vartanian files property fraud complaint against Seckel in Los Angeles Superior Court. Default judgment awarded.
2005 June 29: Horace Freeland Judson e-mails McIver, saying of Seckel that he had “cause to distrust him.”
2005 July 13: Martayan Lan lists Isaac Newton portrait for sale, $165,000. (See 2-23-1979 entry.)
2005 Aug: Craig Venter announces purchase of Norman molecular biology archives by his Venter Institute.
2005 Aug: Seckel participates as a judge at Best Illusion of the Year Contest (A Coruña, Spain) organized by Susana Martinez-Conde. Seckel also listed as member of local organizing committee.
2005 Aug: Hong Kong Leisure and Cultural Services Dept. hires IllusionWorks exhibit for $260,000.
2005 Aug: Complaint and cross-complaint dismissed in Norman v. Seckel.
2005 Sept 19: Letter from Daniel Socolow to Seckel thanking him for MacArthur Fellows Program nominations (listed by Seckel as evidence in Seckel v. McIver).
2005 Sept 28: Infliction of corporal injury on spouse and assault with deadly weapon charge against Seckel filed 10/20/04 dismissed. Lewis had apparently fabricated the charge, recruiting a friend as a “witness,” after failing to get hoped-for money from Seckel in divorce. Case number XCNBA22872-02, Foltz Criminal Justice Center; held to answer 2/2/05.
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: Seckel listed as consultant for NBC reality TV show Treasure Hunters.
2006 Jan: Seckel tells Beth White that he has a Cornell BS in physics and was Carl 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 Feb: Seckel attends TED conference in Monterey, and exhibits water levitating device.
2006 Feb: Isabel Maxwell article "Arts of Communication" in AltAssets website (global private equity and venture capital) refers to Seckel as "one of my favorite authors."
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 Meier's 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 3: Seckel attends Gary Hart book signing party at Lawrence Bender's Bel Air home. Seckel was friends with Bender (Hollywood producer of Tarantino's films and Gore's Inconvenient Truth). Also attending: Paul MacCready, Mike Farrell (actor), Donna Mills (actress, producer), Tammy Alexa, Laurie Foxx (actress, director, producer), Barry Mendel (producer), Peter and Kristen Diamandis, Stephen Gaghan (screenwriter, director), Laurie Henry.
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 and Hollywood visual effects supervisor).
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 Inconvenient Truth; 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 25: Seckel files harassment complaint against Brian Vartanian (see 1-21-05). Dismissed for "lack of prosecution-petn" May 15, 2006.
2006 April 30: Seckel writes his own 3,500-word Wikipedia entry, which is blatantly self-promotional and filled with exaggerated or untrue claims. 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 May: Seckel listed as a "sponsor" (for donating a prize) at 2nd "Best Illusion of the Year Contest" in Sarasota.
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. Seckel, however, shows Crowley fake bill of sale to Scientific Archives.
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 then 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. Seckel demands 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 8: Wikipedia administrators remove many comments from Seckel entry discussion pages as "libel" or "personal attacks." McIver later tries to contact Wikipedia administration and legal counsel to get archived copies of deleted remarks for use in defense if sued by Seckel, but without response.
2006 June 16: Paul MacCready e-mails McIver requesting 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. (Or, perhaps MacCready really was becoming suspicious of Seckel.) Cf. April 2007 entry.
2006 June: Seckel's website, formerly on Caltech domain, says it is "moving." Caltech had written to McIver that Seckel was no longer allowed to use Caltech web domains or lab addresses.
2006 July: Seckel’s lawyers threaten Eric Krieg for posting McIver’s comments about Klass (and his involvement with Seckel) on Krieg's PhACT website. These comments were posted no later than 2002 (probably in 2000--the Skeptic interview of Klass cited as in the "previous issue" come out in 1999) and not edited since. Krieg reluctantly removes them because Seckel belligerently threatens to sue Krieg's PhACT colleagues as well.
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. On his website, Seckel was claiming to work at his lab: "I am doing this research in conjunction with my colleagues in Stephen Kosslyn's laboratory at Harvard University." Seckel continued to make this claim; as of 2017 it remains on his website.
2006 Aug 10: Seckel gives lecture at Art Center College of Design (Pasadena).
2006 Aug: Seckel has entry on Alt.com online dating site under name “BrainyPassionat.” Includes photo of himself, 9/3/58 birthdate, and lists Malibu residence. Gives education as “PhD/MD/Post-doctorate.” Entry is publicly viewable with Google search (since hidden or deleted).
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, adding that they attended it themselves.
2006 Oct 9: Franklin Spellman (Krown and Spellman Booksellers) files complaint against Seckel.
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 Jan: Seckel offers to host Leonardo/International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology fundraiser at his Malibu house; Leonardo reports that Paul MacCready is “very good potential donor” and “best friends” with Seckel. Leonardo, founded by Frank Malina, is now run by his son, astrophysicist Roger Malina, who married Christine Maxwell (trustee of Santa Fe Institute and VP of Internet Society Board of Trustees), sister of Isabel Maxwell.
2007 Jan/Feb: Seckel approaches Adam Gold about Ensign Consulting investment (two antique globes).
2007 Feb 26: PicturePlane (digital illustration) files complaint against Seckel.
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 March: Seckel attends TED. Photographed for TED “portrait gallery” with Isabel Maxwell.
2007 April 9: Seckel tells Ensign Consulting (via Adam Gold) "We are at a chateau, where believe it or not, the owner has an enormous collection of antiquarian science books inherited from her dad. It is a stunning collection." Less than two weeks later he tells Ensign about a famous Isaac Newton portrait he is "currently trying to sell before buying," 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 April: Seckel vacations in France with MacCready (this claim made on AeroVironment webpage dedicated to MacCready, where Seckel describes MacCready as his “best and dearest friend for twenty-six years”). Seckel says MacCready and his wife joined him for two weeks at his "passionate minds salon." This 4-3-2007 photo posted by Seckel, captioned "Rouffillac" (see April 9 and Sept. 3 entries), includes MacCready, Joan Feynman, Isabel Maxwell, Liz Seckel, and other guests of Seckel. Interior of Rouffillac shown here.
2007 April: Peter Diamandis arranges zero gravity parabolic flight for Stephen Hawking; Seckel, his daughter Elizabeth and Isabel Maxwell attend. Flight includes about twenty donors. Seckel shown in this video at 2:18, and here. Group portrait here.
2007 May 1: Seckel buys Isaac Newton portrait from Martayan Lan for $168,500. It is appraised by Sotheby's, Christie's, and various art experts for authenticity and provenance. Also appraised by rare book dealer Jay Dillon, who remains in contact with Seckel.
2007 May: Seckel claims to have been “instrumental in building up [Bill] Gate’s [sic] library” (e-mail to Gold).
2007 May 11: Seckel sues McIver for defamation and libel in federal court (Calif. Central Dist.). The alleged libel consists of comments about Seckel's phony credential claims, mention of the many fraud allegations against him by victims and witnesses, and allegations of dishonesty and financial wrongdoing. In his complaint against McIver, Seckel specifically denies ever making any false credential claims, and denies all reports of SCS financial wrongdoing (including false tax-exempt claims) and all fraud allegations. As evidence of alleged libel he quotes from McIver’s comments on Eric Krieg’s website (which had been posted several years prior, and not edited since). Seckel emphasizes that he is engaged in business dealings which might be jeopardized if his reputation was tarnished by allegations of fraud or dishonesty. Seckel represented by Andrew Krastins and Nicholas Hornberger of Hornberger & Brewer. Some documents filed in this case are available from PACER.gov, the federal court website.
2007 May 23: On TED website, Seckel claims to be conducting research at Stephen Kosslyn’s Harvard lab. Later versions say simply he is working with "psychology researchers at Harvard.” (Kosslyn has since moved to Stanford.)
2007 June 22: McIver, not having a lawyer, answers Seckel's lawsuit charges pro se. He begins to compile timeline of events as part of his defense; that timeline evolved into this chronology.
2007 June: McIver lists initial documents for his defense, including many proving Seckel made the credential claims he denied making, proving he claimed non-profit status for SCS for years after this status was revoked, and proving than many people (witnesses and victims) accused him of financial fraud.
2007 June: Franklin Spellman (of Krown and Spellman rare books) posts on International League of Antiquarian Booksellers website that Seckel refuses to pay $60,000 court judgment he won against him.
2007 Jun-Aug: Ensign Consulting (via Gold) advances Seckel (and Isabel Maxwell) total of $651,910 to purchase rare books and Newton portrait ($168,000 for the painting, the rest for the books; see 4-9-2007 entry).
2007: Seckel acquires $25,000 worth of books from Pearce Williams’ library (reported in May 2012 e-mail to Gold, in court record).
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: Seckel and Maxwell host dinner and presentation by Eric Lloyd Wright for Leonardo/ISAST at their Malibu house.
2007 Aug 28: Paul MacCready dies. Seckel posts same day in memorial site, calling MacCready his "best and dearest friend for twenty-six years." Posts same message next day on TED site, with photo of himself with MacCready, Murray Gell-Mann, and Jonathan Miller.
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 3: Seckel's daughter Elizabeth posts Facebook photo album captioned "Chateau de Rouffillac" (Dordogne, France). Included in photos: Seckel, Joan Feynman. (The chateau was bought by eminent French zoologist Pierre-Paul Grassé, who kept his library of rare scientific books there. When he died his daughter became owner. See 4-9-2007 entry. Later, when asked about Seckel she became extremely upset, but said that she refused to sell the books to him. Her experience with Seckel was traumatic, and police investigators had come to her asking about him.)
Sept 2007: Seckel convinces Ron Crowley to invest in set of rare books, saying he has buyer lined up and that Crowley will make $15,000 profit.
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 whether 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." She is also on Board of Israel21c, an "NGO dedicated to enhancing Israel's global reputation."
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, but was rebuffed; McIver made no attempt to communicate with Gould about this). Claims to have taken or "audited" many classes at Cornell through 1980 (though Cornell records show he did not), 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 flagrant 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 184.108.40.206 (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 and diagnosis was actually September 1991. He also declared he shut down SCS in 1990 not because of illness but because he was "consumed with a separate business lawsuit" [Blumka clock case].)
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, according to Seckel, she allegedly replied that she could release damaging information about him. Linse denies saying anything like this (this was an attempt by Seckel to turn them against each other). 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 6: Seckel files amended defamation complaint against McIver, dropping all charges regarding his phony credential claims but adding concocted conspiracy and stalking charges. Still claims he was “intimate” acquaintance of, and won the respect of, S.J. Gould, Francis Crick, Gell-Mann, Feynman, and MacCready. Cites and enters as evidence dozens of private e-mails obtained in discovery process, and accuses McIver of "spying" on him. As in original complaint, demands $8.25-million in damages.
2008 Feb 20: Seckel files Stipulation for Protective Order to prevent disclosure of information obtained by subpoena of his academic record at Cornell and Caltech, his medical records concerning his leukemia, and "other business, employment and personal information."
2008 Feb 21: Seckel files Settlement Conference Statement, attributing McIver's criticism of him 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 27: McIver answers Seckel's amended complaint.
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. (These people had not all been contacted about this, and some later told McIver they would have refused.) 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 Feb: McIver files Settlement Conference Statement addressing Seckel's allegations of defamation. Also files Confidential Addendum to Settlement Conference Statement.
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 her written declarations and her husband's, saying they realized all along Seckel was dishonest, a cheat, and failed as a student; telling McIver she didn't remember anything about the written declaration she had supposedly signed, and which she said was completely wrong and false. Hibbs' statement is contradicted by sworn testimony from Linse and statements from other SCS volunteers. (In 2019, when asked by McIver if he still stood by his sworn declaration, Hibbs did not reply.) Shneour died 4-14-15, never admitting that 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, including perjury. McIver's insurance company, which provided his defense lawyer, insisted he accept settlement (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 4: Seckel listed as Senior Advisor for Oceans at X-Prize Foundation (Chairman/CEO: Peter Diamandis; Vice Chair: Robert Weiss; President: Tom Vander Ark; Treasurer: Gregg Maryniak; trustees include Larry Page, Ray Kurzweil, Craig Venter, Dean Kamen, Arianna Huffington). Seckel later claims to be “former Senior Advisor and Executive Director, X-Prize Foundation.” Later (2013), X-Prize website lists Seckel as Prize Development Advisor for Oceans, along with James Cameron.
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 Aug 14: Website "Al Seckel's Homepage of Illusions, Perception & Cognitive Science" now at illusionworks.com. Says he “officially stopped” affiliation with Koch and Shimojo labs at Caltech to pursue independent research and research “in conjunction with colleagues” at Kosslyn’s Harvard lab. (Koch continues to defend Seckel despite hearing evidence of fraud.)
2008 Aug 14: In e-mail to Gold, Seckel claims "I have no funds at all...all savings lost..."
2008 Aug: Kevin Break photographs Newton portrait, describing it as owned by Seckel and worth millions.
2008 Sept: Seckel claims book dealer Tiburcio stole (refused to return) three of the rare books sold to Ensign. (A Tiburcio Rare Books is listed in Brooklyn, at the address of Axel Hafter.)
2008 Sept 17: Seckel attends attends Saks Fifth Ave. La Prairie party (Beverly Hills) for marine biology collection with Maxwell, and is photographed with Celine Cousteau by celebrity photographers.
2008 Sept 22: GlobalSolver Foundation (aka Blue World Alliance) incorporated as 501(c)(3) non-profit fundraising charitable organization; Seckel and Isabel Maxwell, founders. CEO and co-founder Caren Edwards describes it as "web platform for crowd sourced collaborations generated by prize-based competitions...focused on creating practical solutions to vetted, well-defined Ocean problems."
2008 Nov 9: Seckel is speaker at Opportunity Green Conference.
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” (Blair Golson) demonstrating the device at Seckel's house. 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. Paul Kirkaas, on his resume, says he was "co-founder and VP of engineering" of "Levitating Waters" 2003-2008.
2009 Feb 6: Michael Sharpe (rare books) sues Seckel for payment of 15th-century manuscript.
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, who describes it as "an innovative funding and study group that looks at ways to match up scientists and money to help the world's oceans." “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. GlobalSolver is elsewhere listed as "secondary name" of (predecessor to?) Seckel and Maxwell's Blue World Alliance.
2009 Feb 25: Corinne Brodbeck (owner of Seckel's Malibu house) files complaint against Seckel and Isabel Maxwell for unpaid rent ($100,000). Case SC101903, Superior Court of California, Los Angeles County. Brodbeck is former actress now living in Bali.
2009 March: In his third (and last) Huffington Post blog post, Seckel refers to his "wife" Isabel, but changes this to "partner."
2009 March 14: Seckel posts on Facebook to Ken Rutkowski that he misses his canceled weekly METal meetings (for media, entertainment and technology entrepreneurs).
2009 March 28: Seckel at Kinnernet 2009 conference (Israel) for internet professionals. At conference, Joi Ito, head of MIT Media Lab, takes publicity photo of Seckel now used for his Wikipedia entry. Other attendees include Dan Dubno, Brad Templeton, Jeff Pulver.
2009 June: Seckel participates in IdeaCity conference (Toronto), listed as Caltech Research Fellow who "was a close student of the physicist Richard Feynman."
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 July 30: Seckel gives presentation at Singularity University (NASA Ames Research Center; SU is sponsored by NASA and Google, founded by Ray Kurzweil and Peter Diamandis.)
2009 Aug: Seckel presents at Asilomar Ideas Camp (Pacific Grove). Photo here.
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 Sept: Seckel presents at Gadgetoff 2009 (New York), photo here.
2009 Oct: Little Green Cocktail Parties lists Seckel as presenter: “Physicist and optical illusionist presents his secret new company (shhh!) and their novel approach to changing the world.” Seckel also described as "founder and visionary" of GlobalSolver Foundation.
2009 Oct 29: Seckel presents and hosts panel on information technology and education ("The Democratization of Information") at internet entrepreneur Jeff Pulver’s 140-Characters conference; panelists include Arianna Huffington, Jonathan Klein (CNN chief), Jeff Pulver, Peter Hirshberg (Silicon Valley media, tech and marketing entrepreneur), 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 Nov 1: Seckel gives presentation to Center for Inquiry West (Los Angeles). Reported on by Carrie Snider (Carrie Poppy).
2009 Nov 7: Ron Crowley dies in accident. His wife and son continue lawsuit against Seckel.
2009 Nov 13: Seckel gives Monaco Media Forum plenary session closing presentation (Monaco).
2009: Seckel visits billionaire Jeffrey Epstein in Florida. This is shortly after Epstein’s early release from jail for felony solicitation of prostitution with underage girls. Epstein’s consort, Ghislaine Maxwell, sister of Seckel’s wife Isabel Maxwell, allegedly helped procure underage girls for Epstein. (Seckel later denies any involvement in or knowledge of Epstein's activities with underage girls--see 5-19-11 entry.)
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: IRS seizes $1,259 from IllusionWorks.
2010 Jan 25: Seckel gives presentation at Digital Life Design (DLD) conference (Germany). He is described in conference bio as “former teaching assistant to Carl Sagan," etc. Other presenters include Jimmy Wales, Dan Dubno, Pablos Holman, John Brockman, Jeff Pulver, Muhammad Yunus. Publicity photos of Seckel taken next day at portrait session.
2010 Feb 8: John Coulter files complaint against Seckel in Malibu.
2010 Mar 1: Bronson, Bronson & McKinnon law firm files complaint against Seckel and IllusionWorks (Michael M. Krieger of BB&M, an intellectual property expert, was IllusionWorks legal counsel.)
2010 Mar 24: Seckel gives talk at Gathering for Gardner (G4G9) conference in Atlanta. Lennart Green, Sandro Del-Prete, Victoria Skye, Susana Martinez-Conde, Ivan Moscovich, and Pablos Holman also present.
2010 April 9: Seckel gives lecture at UCLA School of Management.
2010 April 13: Seckel gives lecture at TEDxUSC. Presents fake “shovel-selling pole dancer” story as genuine.
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 May 14: Seckel presents at TiEcon (Silicon Valley), “the world’s largest conference for entrepreneurs.”
2010 May 15: Seckel attends X-Prize Foundation’s Radical Benefit for Humanity at Lucasfilm (hosted by Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Peter Diamandis, James Cameron). Pictured here and here.
2010 May: Seckel presents exhibit at Google I/O (web technology development conference).
2010 June 3: Isabel Maxwell attends Israel Conference in Los Angeles. She is listed on Advisory Board and Organizing Team for 2015 meeting. Posts several accounts on "We Blog the World" website.
2010 June: Seckel claims Newton portrait is still unsold, and that he can repay Ensign with profits from water venture (presumably the 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 include Milton Timmons.
2010 July 14: Seckel and Maxwell have White House meeting with Michael Froman (then White House Deputy National Security Advisor for Economic Affairs, now U.S. Trade Representative). Meeting also includes Peter Prowitt, Benjamin Blumenthal, Don Weiss, Erik Hanson.
2010 July 16: Seckel and Maxwell file complaint against Brodbeck, owner of 20404 Little Rock Way, Malibu house they were renting and got evicted from.
2010 July 20: Seckel gives Singularity University plenary address, introduced as “former teaching assistant to Carl Sagan," founder and president of Super Smart Consulting Company (etc.). Daniel Kraft posts photo.
2010 July 31: Ghislaine Maxwell photographed at Chelsea Clinton wedding as guest of Bill Clinton (see 6-29-10 entry).
2010 Aug 9: IP 220.127.116.11 (Malibu CA) deletes mention of Seckel’s marriage to Denice Lewis from Seckel Wikipedia entry. Same IP address earlier that year deleted critical comments from Robert Maxwell Wikipedia entry and added information to Jonathan Klein entry.
2010 Oct 1: Seckel gives lecture on "Mindshift" at Zeitgeist Minds conference. Bio says he "stopped doing research from the California Institute of Technology in 2005 to focus on philanthropic activities." Presents fake "shovel-selling pole dancer" story as genuine. Video here.
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 pictured here. Partial attendee list here.
2010 Oct: Seckel interview ("Jeffrey Epstein Talks Perception with Al Seckel") is lead item on 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 "Mindshift" conference, funded and hosted by Epstein, to be held in "early January on the Island of St. Thomas and Jeffrey Epstein's private island in the Caribbean, Little St. James." Participants: Murray Gell-Mann, Christof Koch, Catherine Mohr, Gerald Sussman, Frances Arnold, Leonard Mlodinow, Paul Kirkaas, Brock Pierce, Ron Reisman, Pablos Holman, Dan Dubno, Reichart Von Wolfsheild. (Photo of conference attendees posted 2-4-11 on Liz Seckel Facebook page.)
2010 Nov: Epstein’s interview of Seckel edited; adds mention of his not graduating from Cornell. “‘Did you graduate from Cornell?’ ‘No, I ended up not finishing the requirements, although I did certainly more than enough course-work, but more to my own requirements and interests, rather than Cornell’s requirements…’ ”
2010 Dec: Epstein's science website features articles about Martin Gardner, Robert Lang, and Daniel Kraft.
2010 Dec 22: Living Aquatic Art Design files complaint against Seckel.
2011: Leonard Mlodinow mentions his personal association with Seckel in his book War of the Worldviews, citing Seckel on auditory illusions.
2011 Jan: Mindshift conference organized by Seckel held at Epstein's Virgin Islands estate. Isabel Maxwell accompanies Seckel.
2011 Jan: Seckel is listed as one of the scientists and researchers funded by Epstein on Epstein’s website (others include Murray Gell-Mann, Lawrence Krauss, Martin Nowak, Stephen Kosslyn, David Deutsch, Marvin Minsky, Lee Smolin). Webpage deleted soon after.
2011 Jan 26: Seckel participates at World Economic Forum (Switzerland) on panel chaired by Nature editor-in-chief Philip Campbell. Isabel Maxwell also participates; they are shown together in publicity photo.
2011 Jan 28: Seckel participates in panel on neuro-ethics at World Economic Forum; panel includes Dan Ariely. (Ariely later says he is "amazed" and "depressed" to find out about Seckel's dishonesty and fraud.)
2011 Feb 8: Blue World Alliance website online, but title page only, with no content. Elsewhere Seckel is listed as “founder and visionary” of Blue World Alliance. Seckel listed as exec director and co-founder; Isabel Maxwell as president and co-founder) Described as ocean-focused charity, with its mission to solve tractable ocean problems within 3-5 years. Catherine Mohr listed as on Board of Directors 2009-2013. Harald Leventhal, a foundation and philanthropy manager, listed as registered agent, but stopped doing business with Seckel and Maxwell in 2011.
2011 Feb 14: Oceans Aquarium files complaint against Seckel in Malibu.
2011 Feb 25: Settlement in Crowley v. Seckel; case dismissed “without prejudice." However, Seckel does not pay sums agreed upon in this settlement.
2011 March 4: Seckel charged with fraud by Ensign Consulting; summary of charges posted online March 10 at Courthouse News; Isabel Maxwell named as co-defendant. Documents filed in this and related cases are available at PACER.gov.
2011 March: Epstein interview of Seckel disappears from Epstein’s science website. (Some months later, entire content of website is removed.)
2011 March 10: Seckel claims car accident totals his Lexus.
2011 April 22: Seckel is speaker at Magic-Con (as is Susana Martinez-Conde, Richard Kaufman, Bob Sheets, and Lennart Green).
2011 May: GlobalSolver Foundation (“c/o Isabel Maxwell”) listed as 501(c) tax-exempt nonprofit “charitable organization." Associated with Seckel and Maxwell's Blue World Alliance (GlobalSolver Foundation renamed Blue World Alliance in 2010).
2011 May: Seckel and Maxwell leave 2401 Rambla Pacifico, Malibu.
2011 May 19: In signed "Declaration," Seckel denies any involvement with or knowledge of Jeffrey Epstein's sexual activities with underage girls. Seckel said he learned a subpoena had been issued to depose him in connection with Epstein, and this declaration was his response.
2011 May 22: Seckel is speaker at LINT (Life in Technology) conference (Moscow).
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 Aug: Seckel listed on All American Talent and Celebrity website as available speaker. Says he was a “cognitive neuroscientist at Caltech” and is now working with “psychology researchers at Harvard." Speakerpedia lists him for $18,000, gives his location as Paris, France.
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 18.104.22.168 (from Pontours, Dordogne, 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 1: Seckel's lawyers send letters to McIver and his wife and daughter threatening jail for contempt of court plus criminal and civil charges, citing McIver’s e-mail to Mohr of link to Courthouse News article about Seckel’s current court case.
2011 Nov 2: Seckel and Maxwell file financial statement in Ensign v. Seckel listing debts, creditors, assets, etc.
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 further fraud. Cites libelous statements by Seckel as evidence Seckel 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 28: Seckel posts photo of the Newton portrait he bought on Feynman commemorative Facebook page (archived here), claiming it is Kneller’s original 1689 painting, the most famous Newton portrait. (It is actually a studio copy ca 1698--see 7-13-05 entry. The 1689 original is still owned by the Earl of Portsmouth; he confirmed this in response to a written query from McIver.) Shown holding portrait are Joan Feynman and Lisa Randall, who Seckel says are “very close friends” of his. Randall later told McIver she regretted her association with Seckel. Joan Feynman never responded to inquiries.
2012 Jan 30: Seckel posts comments to Chris Mooney’s Facebook page. 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 March: Seckel's 2007 TED lecture included in The TED Book: 2006-2012, a video book.
2012 March 8: Epstein Foundation responds by e-mail to McIver saying they are still funding Seckel on a “case by case basis.”
2012 May 2: Seckel finally responds to document requests for discovery in Ensign v. Seckel, over five weeks late.
2012 May 14: "Al Seckel, Elizabeth Seckel, UC San Diego" listed as presenters at Vision Sciences Society annual meeting (Naples FL).
2012 May 24: Seckel and Maxwell file amended financial statement in Ensign v. Seckel, still claiming to be destitute and in debt.
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. Gell-Mann a founding member. Shuts down July 12, 2019.
2012 Oct: Isabel Maxwell gives Israel Venture Network presentation at Webit conference in Istanbul and is interviewed by Ben Rooney of Wall Street Journal. (This despite claiming to court that she and Seckel are "destitute" and cannot afford any travel.) Maxwell is founding member and Director of IVN, and Chair of IVN's Social Entrepreneur Fellowship Program.
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 (Seckel) or identity the castle, but posts photos. McIver identifies the photos as luxury Château de la Malartrie in La Roque Gageac, in the Dordogne. 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 May 7: Shawn Carlson announces on Twitter that he is now selling genuine Stone Age tools, having acquired a large set while in France. Sells these through Flint Stone Tools, previously owned and operated by Seckel and Maxwell. Says these were acquired from a defunct museum and old private collections. Also markets them through his LabRats Science Education Program and his Engagement Education program. (More pictures here and here.) The stone age tools ("75,000 pieces available") are described as "one of the most extensive collections of authentic Neanderthal and Cro Magnon tools in North America" (San Diego Magazine, "Early Ancestor Day.")
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 (and wife of Robert Maxwell), 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. Again, he does not appear.
2013 Oct 7: David Lally, Seckel’s lawyer, files motion in Ensign v. Seckel to withdraw from case because Seckel has failed to pay him promised attorney fees. Lally adds he “may take legal action against Defendants” to recover money owed.
2013 Oct. 25: Lally's motion to withdraw as Seckel's attorney is granted by court.
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 (see Dec. 2004 entry), threatening to tell his business partners about his dishonesty. 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: Blue World Alliance suspended by Calif. Secretary of State or Franchise Tax Board (suspensions are usually for improper filing).
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). Catherine Mohr listed as "Scientific Advisor, 2013--" on her CV.
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 Aug 6: IGNITE21C registers as foreign LLC in Texas. Also listed in Delaware.
2014 Aug 22: Frances Arnold (Caltech biochemical engineer) tweets Seckel about genetic engineering.
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). Monique (Monica) Cruveilher posts photo from same event on her Facebook page, captioned "Saint Pompon" (Dordogne).
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.
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.
2014 or 2015: Seckel reportedly tries to rent Château de Puymartin in Sarlat-la-Canéda but is refused due to growing reputation for rent non-payment. He had stopped paying rent at Château de la Malartrie in La Roque Gageac, and the owner eventually had to evict him and Isabel Maxwell. He may have relocated to nearby Saint-Geniès.
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." Listing (collectorsfolio.com/Ignite21c) soon deleted, however.
2015 March 28: Seckel gives gives presentation at Arizona State Univ. Design School's Exposed Symposium ("coming all the way from France"). Picture here.
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 2016 March entry).
2015 June 22: Courthouse News article about Ensign v. Seckel restored online with no explanation after removal due to Seckel’s intimidation.
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 Seckel, 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. Quotes Gerald Sussman as saying "I don't feel good about it" when asked if he'd given money to Seckel, implying he had. Mentions that Seckel now trying to sell Robert Maxwell's papers, without success. 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 (Nicholas Hornberger) 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. ("Ruotailfoglio": Gianni Sarcone?)
2015 Aug 10: Oppenheimer's Tablet article now prefaced with: "[geoip-content country =”FR”]This article is not currently available in France[/geoip-content." (Later removed.)
2015 Sept: Note is added to Seckel's speaker profile page on TED website: "A previous version of this biography described Seckel as a 'cognitive neuroscientist' which was not accurate."
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 website. 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. Reis also 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. (Maven says he has no memory of this, but may have been at the Castle then and met them there.)
2015 Sept 22: An excerpt from this memorial appeared as an obituary in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune shortly 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 stationed at Saint-Géry 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 "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. 5: Court grants Stipulation filed in Ensign v. Seckel (see 7-24-2015 entry).
2015 Oct: American living in France gets e-mails from someone residing near 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 Nov 25: Isabel Maxwell files marriage annulment lawsuit against Seckel. Nullity granted effective 6-22-16.
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 29: 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: Feynman.com website includes page "Al Seckel on Feynman." Contents appeared earlier on associated fotuva.com website, and originally on separate website "Al Seckel's Richard Feynman."
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 next door to 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 April: RationalWiki entry for "affinity fraud" uses Seckel's case (citing Oppenheimer's article and Lippard follow-up) as an example of persuading colleagues and friends in one trusted circle to place their confidence in you, then defrauding them. Wikipedia "affinity fraud" entry, which also included Seckel case, later deleted (merged into other entries).
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.
2016 May 24: IGNITE21C "dissolved via compulsory strike-off" in UK.
2016 July: Courthouse News article about Ensign v. Seckel no longer online (see 3-4-2011 entry).
2016 Oct: Book about Jeffrey Epstein, Filthy Rich, by best-selling author James Patterson and John Connolly with Tim Malloy, published. Includes brief chapter about Seckel, describing Seckel's 2010 Mindshift conference held at Epstein's Virgin Islands estate, using information from Oppenheimer's 2015 article.
2016 Oct 29: Seckel's Wikipedia entry has this line added to intro: "However, his posthumous reputation is more as a fraudster." This is deleted same day by another editor, with explanation that it needs sourcing.
2016 Nov: Dallas branch of IGNITE21C still listed as "active." Address (2929 Shelby Ave.), a condo, also listed as address for Research on Demand, Inc., Christine Maxwell's California-based online database research company.
2016 Dec 1: Todd Reis posts on Eye Wonder Facebook page: "SPECIAL NOTICE!!!! ... Isabel Maxwell has opted to have this page deleted in about a week since Eye Wonder Publishing and Al Seckel are no longer in existence. This page was initially started by Al in support of his Eye Wonder optical illusion ebooks and regular website several years ago. At the time, he also asked me, Todd Reis, to help Admin this page... I continued to do so even after Al lost interest in doing anything more with Eye Wonder Publishing and after his death from a hiking accident last year." On Dec. 25, new post announces that the page will not be deleted after all.
2017: Google search result for "Al Seckel" still shows Knowledge Graph display (right-hand side bar with biographical synopsis) listing education as Cornell 1976-1980, implying graduation.
2017 Jan: Still no information or confirmation from any official source about Seckel's death; only, apparently, what is disclosed by or originating from Isabel Maxwell. An anonymous client contacts a leading corporate intelligence and investigations firm specializing in fraud to look into Seckel's disappearance and death, but after initial consultation, does not hire them. No French death record is ever produced.
2017 April 26: Pacer.gov lists Ensign v Seckel case as terminated on this date.
2017: Intellectual property attorney and high tech business expert Michael M. Krieger posts personal website (marked "under construction") featuring blurb praising Seckel: "Al was a client, among the most talented I have had the pleasure to work with." Krieger, a Caltech grad now at UCLA, was IllusionWorks legal counsel, and has worked with Caltech Entrepreneurs Forum (with Brock Pierce) and California-Israel Chamber of Commerce (with Isabel Maxwell).
2017 June: Isabel Maxwell listed as "ambassador" with Shared Studios, and described as "Technology Pioneer of the World Economic Forum...media and internet entrepreneur, international executive, and champion of social innovation...known for her energetic leadership of companies and non-profit organizations and leveraging her extensive network of investors, thought-leaders, business leaders and philanthropists around the world."
2017 Nov: Isabel Maxwell resumes blogging at "We Blog the World" (see 6/3/2010 entry), which now describes itself as a "transformative travel" website featuring luxury lifestyle reporting.
2017 Nov 27: Isabel Maxwell listed as senior advisor for RespectAbility.
2018: Seckel memorial website alseckel.net (see 9-18-2015 entry) disappears. Archived here.
2018 Oct: Isabel Maxwell attends Nobel Awards ceremony as guest of Frances Arnold of Caltech, winner of chemistry prize. Maxwell says they have been friends since 2006; they traveled together in Israel in 2018. (See Nov. 6, 2010 entry.)
2018 Dec 5: Advance presentation copy of Feynman's 1985 book Surely You're Joking sells at Bonhams auction for $16,250. Copy is inscribed: "1984 To Al, Think of this as a companion volume to Russell in developing your understanding of philosophy. Your devoted teacher and friend, Richard Feynman." Also inscribed later by Ralph Leighton: "To Al with best wishes. Happy reading Fond Memories Ral 1996." (Leighton, whose tape recordings were the basis of the book, never responds to inquiries about his relationship with Seckel.) Provenance: owned by Seckel, then his daughter, then sold to present owner. Cf. 6-19-1991 entry re Seckel's relationship with Feynman.
2019 April 12: Another book dealer lists copy of The Feynman Lectures on Physics for $20,000. Copy is inscribed: "May 5, 1982, To my friend, Al Seckel."
2019 Aug 18: Daily Beast article, by Dana Kennedy, about Ghislaine Maxwell's family includes section on Seckel, describing him as "swindler" and "infamous con man."
2019 Sept 6: Technology writer and critic Evgeny Morozov posts on Twitter: "Still surprised by how little attention the Epstein-chasing media have paid to Al Seckel - a top-notch charlatan, a one-time TED talker, a member of the Edge community, an ex-husband of Ghislaine Maxwell's sister, and a co-organizer (with Epstein) of the Mindshift conference."
2019 Sept 10: Biologist PZ Myers writes about Seckel in his Pharyngula blog: "Ugh, Al Seckel's name floats to the top again." Calls him "self-serving fraud who slithered his way into the skeptic community, taking advantage of their gullibility of any phony who knew the right science buzzwords." Notes his association with Brockman and Epstein. "Viewed with hindsight, knowing how unsavory Epstein was, Seckel's history looks even more horrible now... [O]ne of Seckel's tools to suppress anyone who might question his credentials...was the frequent use of lawsuits and threats of lawsuits. [P]eople were afraid to talk about his dubious claims because he'd drop a lawsuit on you if you didn't reward him with honors for his nonexistent skills."
2019 Sept 18: Retired physics prof. and science educator Mano Singham writes blog post "How to con scientists and skeptics" about Seckel. Notes that, like Epstein, he pretended to scientific and intellectual authority he did not possess, and described his success as due to leveraging his initial friendship with scientists--notably Feynman and Gell-Mann--into luring more and more elite scientists and "skeptics" into his orbit. They assumed he was trustworthy and a brilliant scientist because of the prestigious names he had already acquired in his network.
2019 Sept 19: Kim Masters writes Hollywood Reporter article about Brock Pierce, cryptocurrency entrepreneur allegedly involved in the past with sexually abusive behavior. Describes his attendance at 2011 Mindshift conference arranged by Seckel and held on Epstein's island and nearby St. Thomas (see Nov 6, 2010 entry). Includes comments by Lawrence Bender on Seckel's flair for connecting people, and notes that his death has never been proved, with some suspecting it was faked.
2020 April 3: Daily Mail article based on interview with Reichart Von Wolfsheild, who attended Seckel's Jan. 2011 "Mindshift" conference on Jeffrey Epstein's island. Von Wolfsheild accepted Seckel's invitation in order to provide undercover information to lawyer Brad Edwards who was representing Epstein's underage victims, and said that Epstein wanted him to attend because he hoped to use Von Wolfsheild's programming skills to safely obtain new victims and hack into Edwards' files on him. Von Wolfsheild said of Seckel "About half of what Al told you was made up in his head and the other half was true. But you never knew which was which."
2020 April 19: British right-wing website Politicalite publishes article "Epstein Bottom Girl Ghislaine Maxwell is Hiding Out in France to avoid FBI Charges." Claims that in order to avoid extradition Ghislaine Maxwell is hiding out in France at her family's former home, quoting unnamed source saying "The chateau was owned by her mother and is the same place that sister Isabel Maxwell and Al Seckel fled too [sic]," showing photo of Château de la Malartrie in La Roque-Gageac. This is false; her mother owned a different chateau nearby (Manoir de Fraytet, Montagnac-sur-Lède); Malartrie, where Seckel stayed, is still owned by the Saint-Aulaire family.
2021 April 23: Isabel Maxwell appears in court at Ghislaine Maxwell's court hearing in which Ghislaine pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking charges in connection with Jeffrey Epstein.
2022 April 14: Daily Mail article by Rory Mulholland announces "mystery death" of Seckel "finally solved": he committed suicide, jumping off cliff in Saint-Cirq-Lapopie. Article shows photo of police report of his death, claiming it is the "death certificate." (Report gives same information as given to McIver in 2015; see 4-23-15 entry.) Isabel Maxwell listed on report as "époux" (spouse) of Seckel.
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