Nestled away among some of the oldest and most historic buildings in Jaffa, near the entrance of the old port, is the Uri Geller Museum, a museum unlike any other, boasting a unique and varied collection, and standing as a testament to the mind, life and legacy of one of Israel’s most famous and interesting personalities.
Like the man himself, the museum is truly a one-of-a-kind spectacle, featuring a diverse and amazing collection of items on display that need to be seen to be believed.
That alone would make this museum worth visiting, but it is Geller’s enthusiasm-filled guided tours and the showcase of the life story of such a unique individual that cement it as an absolute must-see.
It may seem hard to believe that someone born to a relatively poor life in Tel Aviv would become the man he is today, and Geller does have his critics, but his reputation has withstood the test of time and has seen him rub shoulders with a wide variety of famous figures over the years. He rose to prominence in the 1970s, having impressed then-prime minister Golda Meir with his seemingly supernatural abilities, which were then certified by the CIA after he was subjected to testing.
“As a result of Geller’s success in this experimental period, we consider that he has demonstrated his paranormal perceptual ability in a convincing and unambiguous manner,” Geller proudly declared, citing the CIA report in question.
Many over the years have doubted Geller’s claims of extraordinary abilities, but none can dispute that his life and career have been anything but mundane. He is a man of many talents, having been a paratrooper in the Six Day War, where he was wounded on French Hill; a model and entertainer; a singer, even recording and releasing six albums; an author who has published over 14 books; and a talented artist, even boasting at having the surrealist luminary Salvador Dali as a mentor.
And all this and more are on full display at the museum, which, like Geller himself, is anything but ordinary.
The museum is situated in Old Jaffa in an old Ottoman-era building that once served as a soap factory. It isn’t the only museum in the area; in fact, it is directly abutting the Ilana Goor Museum. But this museum is no simple gallery. In fact, it is quite unlike any other museum in the world.
No space is left untouched, as walls, tables, displays and pedestals are lined with a wide assortment of items and mementos from Geller’s long and storied career.
These range from a crystal sphere that belonged to Tsar Nicholas II and a statue that belonged to Mahatma Gandhi, to items he obtained directly, such as a jacket signed by Michael Jackson and boxing gloves that belonged to Muhammad Ali. He even boasts a small gold nugget he obtained one day from John Lennon, who had sworn that aliens tried to talk to him.
This story is one Geller enthusiastically recounts in his museum, which is available for group tours guided by the man himself and is available in multiple languages. Despite being close to 75 years old, Geller glides around the room with the enthusiasm of a man still in his prime, recounting his own life story and the stories of every item in the museum with the natural smoothness and charisma of an expert showman.
Geller and his best friend and brother-in-law, Shipi Shtrang, had gone together alongside astronaut Edgar Mitchell, the sixth man to walk on the moon, to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland and met with Dr. Wernher von Braun, a Nazi scientist dubbed “the father of rockets,” who had been brought to the US via Operation Paperclip. There, Geller claims, he was shown a strange piece of metal that he said “breathed,” and which von Braun said was from a UFO.
After that, they were taken down to an unmarked building on the site and led down three flights of stairs. After putting on protective lab equipment similar to what is used in Antarctica, they went inside a special refrigerated room.
“Now, who can tell me what I saw inside there?” Geller asked the group, which was made up of pilots from the 101st Squadron, the first fighter pilot unit in the IDF. “Say it out loud.”
“An alien?” one guest asked.
“Who said that?” Geller asked.
“I did,” the guest replied.
“He said it, not me!” Geller instantly replied. “You all heard that!”
Many of the stories of the various items on display are told by Geller himself, or further elaborated by videos played in the center of the room on a huge video wall. The items include paintings, signed memorabilia and incredible artifacts.
These include a jersey belonging to Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona, several sculptures by Salvador Dali, a copy of a Leonardo da Vinci painting and a rock crystal sphere that belonged to Leonardo given to Geller by Dali, an ancient crystal skull given to him by former Mexican president Jose Lopez Portillo, a Make America Great Again hat signed by former US president Donald Trump and the artwork for Michael Jackson’s last album, Invincible, which was designed by Geller himself.
Also on display is a massively enlarged issue of the Marvel comic book Daredevil. This issue, Daredevil No. 133, was released in 1976 and was written by Marv Wolfmann, and showcased the titular superhero team up with Geller to fight the psychic super-villain Mind-Wave.
THE MOST notable of the personal artworks on display are the spoons, with the type of cutlery being one that has defined Geller’s career due to his being famous for “spoon bending,” or allegedly using psychic abilities to bend spoons. In fact, Geller has popularized spoon bending to such an extent that it has now become symbolic of psychic abilities as a whole.
The most prominent spoon is actually outside the museum, a massive 16-meter steel tablespoon that has since been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest spoon in the world. But it is far from the only spoon, with several more displayed inside the museum itself.
The most eye-catching display of spoons inside the museum can be seen adorning a car, a customized 1976 Cadillac. This piece, titled the Geller Effect, consists of around 2,000 spoons, forks and other cutlery affixed meticulously all over the car, some of which belonged to Geller personally, and around 1,000 donated by British, Arab, Israeli and Indian schoolchildren.
Geller also claims that many of the spoons belonged to famous individuals, with the list including luminaries such as former world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis, magician Harry Houdini, Egypt’s King Farouk, the UK’s Princess Diana, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, PLO leader Yasser Arafat, psychology pioneer Sigmund Freud (from whom Geller claims he descends), Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, rock musician Sting, Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev, England’s King George III. There is also a spoon he claims dates back thousands of years. The Cadillac was exhibited in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem for an entire year.
What is perhaps the most unusual of the items on display is a model Libyan airplane that came from another surprising source: Former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
Geller recounts his meeting with the now deceased world leader with a mix of wistfulness and incredulity.
“In 2009, Gaddafi wanted to come to New York and speak at the UN, but he couldn’t get a room at any hotel,” he said. “He tried setting up an encampment in Central Park, but that didn’t work out. He then set up a large Bedouin-style tent on Donald Trump’s property in Bedford, New York.”
Geller’s voice drops, and his next sentence comes out in an excited whisper. “In short, I met him. Gaddafi came at me wearing a brown keffiyeh. And he shouted: ‘You are from Israel! I will send you something, so you can remind all your people what you did to us!’”
Months later, the plane arrived. What did it mean? By Geller’s guess, it referenced an incident in 1973, which he recounts in excited detail – fitting for the guests, who were all retired fighter pilots. The incident in question was the downing of Libyan Arab Airlines Flight 114, which was shot down by the IAF on February 21, 1973, after it illegally flew into Israeli territory in the Sinai while en route to Cairo.
BY GELLER’S own estimation, the most valuable piece in his collection is an artwork by Andy Warhol. However, some of the most incredible pieces in the museum aren’t kept up for display.
Downstairs, in the lower levels of the museum, lie rooms with several glass cases filled with a variety of artifacts and mementos.
“Nobody ever comes down here,” Geller told the Magazine as he walked down the stairs. “You’re the first to see it all.”
The items stored in this area include a shirt worn by former prime minister David Ben-Gurion, the binoculars that belonged to former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, a basketball signed by NBA legend Kobe Bryant, a cap signed by Formula One racer Lewis Hamilton, Gary Cooper’s script holder and penknife, Sigmund Freud’s pipe, a gift from IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi, and items related to Geller’s famous lawsuit against Nintendo over the Pokémon Kadabra, whose likeness was taken from him, though Geller dropped the lawsuit after 20 years.
So much of this collection comes from Geller having met so many famous and influential people in his career, something by his own admission he strived for.
“I was on an ego trip; I was shameless,” he said. “I wanted to rub shoulders with famous people.”
And his success is evident.
“I’m a natural-born showman and PR man. I have no managers or spokespeople. I know how to go with the flow and appeal to tabloids, governments and scientists,” he explained. “I can rock the boat and be successful with it. I’m nice. I’m open and down to earth. I’m Israeli, I’m a Sabra [native-born Israeli] and I have chutzpah.”
And with a career spanning five decades and feats famous throughout the world, no one can deny – believe in him or not – that Geller never fails to stay relevant, even, or perhaps especially, when he is controversial.
“Oscar Wilde said it best,” he said, quoting a line from The Picture of Dorian Gray: “There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”
Indeed, in 2021 alone, Geller – by his own count – had made front-page headlines eight times. They included his claiming to utilize his powers to dislodge the Ever Given after it had gotten stuck in the Suez Canal; using his psychic abilities in an effort to help England in the Euro 2020 games; disclosing details about his alien encounters with NASA; and, most recently at the time of writing, accusing aliens of being behind Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp going down for over six hours.
WHAT WAS perhaps most striking about the museum in retrospect was the details surrounding the museum itself.
Geller launched the museum with an investment of $6 million, and it is set to be the subject of a documentary, filming for which should begin in December. It was originally set to open earlier, but was delayed by COVID-19.
This new museum was devised to house the many items he has accrued throughout his career and his time hopping between the US, Israel and the UK.
But Geller is also well aware of his age. Though he possesses the energy and youthful exuberance of a man decades younger, he is still almost 75. Though his life has been filled with extravagance and excitement, seeing sights that most people could never dream of, he doesn’t know how much longer he has left in this world.
And this is arguably summed up with a final video he showed near the end of the tour. The video is a photo montage featuring Geller’s humble beginnings and rise to international super-stardom, with photos showing him alongside the many famous figures he has met throughout his career.
All of this is set to Geller himself singing a cover of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” a song that emphasizes a man facing “the final curtain” and reflecting on how he’s “lived a life that’s full” and “much more than this, I did it my way.”
But an Uri Geller Museum would not be complete without his signature feat: spoon bending. And, indeed, at the end of the tour, he did exactly that, snapping the front of the spoon off as it went flying behind him before then bending the handle back as he discussed the times he did this feat in the past.
“But wait, I have one more spoon to bend,” Geller concluded, showing off the spoon tattoo that stretches from his bicep to his forearm past the elbow. He raised his arm and bent it backward, bending the spoon tattoo. “One, two, three.” ■
The writer was a guest of the museum.