Vanni Bossi was a delightful human being. I treasure having met him, and to have had the honor of being his friend. His smiles were genuine, his hugs authentic and his kindness plentiful.
I met him at Las Jornadas de El Escorial—a gathering of magicians dedicated to the art of card magic. Vanni never failed to surprise me with new ideas each gathering. Vanni mixed ingenuity and passion with genius, which resulted in fresh ideas that not only entertained us, he consistently fooled us. He embodied that unique quality of magic: he inspired awe, laughter and wonder in his audiences.
When I spent time in Vanni's home, he took the time and care to show me his book collection. He had taken pains to locate and preserve magic books that had been thought to have been lost for centuries.
One year, at Escorial, we were tasked with solving the problems that Johann Nepomuk Hofzinser had posed in his foundational book on card magic. No one had touched one of his effects, as it was deemed unsolvable. The premise? A selected card vanished from the deck, and appeared rolled into a tube, inserted into a finger ring held behind the back of an audience member. Everyone had dismissed the challenge as a fallacy.
When Vanni got up to present, he asked for an audience member wearing a finger ring to come forward. Eyebrows raised in disbelief. Vanni asked the audience member to remove their ring, and hold it behind their back. Brows furrowed. Vanni had a card freely selected, and then he asked for the card to be signed. Mouths dropped open in shock. You see, in the Hofzinser plot, no mention was made of a signed card — most experts in card magic presumed that the card that appeared in the ring would have to be a duplicate. A duplicate card would not resolve the issues of the Hofzinser problem, but how else would any solution be possible? Vanni's use of a signed card multiplied the impossibility of the already impossible effect.
Vanni took the signed card and shuffled it into the deck. He waved a magic wand and claimed that the card had vanished from the deck. Vanni cleanly dealt through the deck, card by card, and indeed, the signed card was gone.
Vanni turned to the audience member, and asked them to show their finger ring. The audience member gasped as they brought the ring out from behind their back: in it, rolled into a tube, was a playing card. The audience member removed the card, slowly unrolled it, and there it was, the signed card!
Everyone, all expert masters in card magic, from all over the world, were stunned. Completely speechless. Utterly full of the magic of the moment. This was the magic of Vanni Bossi.
I would write more about my dear friend, but the tears are making typing difficult. I miss him ever so much. Know this, the art of magic, and the world in general, is a better place because he spent time with us.