Apollo Robbins will take the phone from your pocket and the ring off your finger, then hand them back to you and (maybe) show you how he did it.

Why you should listen

Pickpocketing is a triumph of craft: a distracting touch with one hand, while the other hand gets to work, and the next thing you know ... where's my wallet? Apollo Robbins is a modern master of picking pockets, possessor of a subtle understanding of human attention, a taste for classic crime, and something he calls "grift sense" -- which, as he told the New Yorker , is “stepping outside yourself and seeing through the other person’s eyes, thinking through the other person’s mind, but it’s happening on a subconscious level.”
Robbins makes a living as an entertainer, speaker and television personality, and he also is the founder of Whizmob Inc., a collective of misdirection experts -- including reformed criminals -- that schools military and law enforcement leaders in fraud and scam tactics. Robbins has also collaborated with academics in his quest to understand how awareness and attention can be manipulated. He's co-author of a 2011 paper that explores something he noticed in his countless hours of practice: people's eyes are more easily misdirected to follow a curve than a straight line.

What others say

“In magic circles, Robbins is regarded as a kind of legend, though he largely remains, as the magician Paul Harris told me, 'the best-kept secret in town.'” — Adam Green, New Yorker

Apollo Robbins’ TED talk

Apollo Robbins on the TED Blog
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Studying human nature by picking pockets: A Q&A with Apollo Robbins

September 13, 2013

If you ever meet Apollo Robbins in person, hold onto your wallet. The professional sleight-of-hand artist, who has been studying magic for more than 25 years, made headlines in 2001 when he pickpocketed Jimmy Carter’s Secret Service detail, taking their badges and even the keys to the motorcade. Since then, he has gained a reputation […]

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Live from TEDGlobal

The art of misdirection: Apollo Robbins at TEDGlobal 2013

June 12, 2013

“Do you think it’s possible to control someone’s attention, or even their behavior? To me that would be the perfect superpower,” says Apollo Robbins at TEDGlobal 2013. “I’ve spent the last 20 years studying human behavior in an unconventional way: by picking pockets.” Robbins, whom The New Yorker called a “theatrical pickpocket” in their profile of […]

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Live from TEDGlobal

Money Talks: The speakers in session 4 at TEDGlobal 2013

June 12, 2013

In the immortal words of the Wu-Tang Clan, “Cash rules everything around me.” Then again, as Benjamin Franklin put it, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” So how are we to parse this thing — money — which shapes so much of our lives? This session will make you think again about economics, taking […]

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