Let me tell you about the guy who made the Statue of Liberty disappear.

His name is David Copperfield (not the David Copperfield, you say, but just wait awhile), and he is magician enough to have been in the Ford's Theatre Gala Saturday, where he made a girl named Sarah disappear from a chair on top of a table without any skirting around its legs.

Last year he made a seven-ton Lear jet vanish before millions of television viewers. The year before that he levitated a $60,000 Ferrari on TV, and before that he dematerialized the entire rock group Earth, Wind and Fire and had it turn up minutes later high on a scaffolding while 20,000 fans gaped.

But the Statue of Liberty, now. Two hundred twenty-five tons of copper and steel, 152 feet high not counting the pedestal, which is some pedestal, if you recall.

A few weeks ago Copperfield landed on the island with a helicopter, a radar screen, a few dozen instant-picture cameras, a couple hundred lights from spots to floods, four Mack trucks with generators on them, a crane to lift the trucks, 300 technicians, and a bi-i-i-g curtain.

He collected a jury of about 20 people, picked off the streets, from recent immigrants to teen-age skeptics to a priest ("we aimed a key light at his collar") and he sat them in tilted chairs on the big lawn behind the statue so that Ms. Liberty appeared to them within the curtained frame. Then he pulled the curtain.

They knew the thing was still there because they could see it as a huge blip on radar monitors. Besides, the cameras surrounding the statue were automatically slipping instant photos of it into locked boxes.

Copperfield stood to one side and concentrated. Frowned, scowled, rubbed his temples, closed his eyes. Abruptly, his head snapped up. He waved. The curtain opened.

The Statue of Liberty was gone.

Nothing but sky there. The radar blip was gone too. The helicopter flew through the empty place. And later, when they took out the photos, the image of the building, so sharp and clear in the first pictures taken, had disappeared.

A lady on the jury said, "I never seen a statue vanish like that one."

You can see it all on the magician's CBS special next April.

"I wanted to make a statement about freedom," Copperfield said. "I wanted to show how fatally easy it is for us to lose our liberties."

Would he say how he did it? Are you kidding?

But he did say this: "There are maybe 10 different principles in magic tricks. They're like the scale in music. You break down even the most complex effect into simple components."

For example: mirrors (not used anywhere near as much as people believe), misdirection of attention, substitutions, false bottoms, tops and sides, the classic sleight of hand and the plain, simple bone-crushing discomfort that is the hallmark of escape tricks.

The 26-year-old Copperfield, who used to be David Kotkin back in Bayonne, N.J., seemed uneasily aware of the effect he has had.

"Sometimes the public gets confused. I get thousands of letters. People say their child has headaches since seeing the program, and can I do anything about it?"

He is wary of "exploiters." Once in Chicago, when he was starring in a musical comedy about magic, "The Magic Man," at age 18, he confronted spoon-bender Uri Geller on the Irv Kupcinet TV show. As he duplicated one Geller trick after another, the self-declared psychic threatened to walk out.

"Real?" he smiled rather wistfully. "I wish he was real. The power of the human mind is almost beyond belief. If you had those powers, you wouldn't bend spoons."

His style is theatric, bringing not merely comedy but some emotion into his magical skits. He has a therapy program, Project Magic, working with arthritic and paraplegic persons on physical dexterity and confidence. He likes to say he was the director of the Liberty effect, for he has directed Showing Off for Ford's Theater David Copperfield's Monumental Magic Act By Michael Kernan

Let me tell you about the guy who made the Statue of Liberty disappear.

His name is David Copperfield (not the David Copperfield, you say, but just wait awhile), and he is magician enough to have been in the Ford's Theatre Gala Saturday, where he made a girl named Sarah disappear from a chair on top of a table without any skirting around its legs.

Last year he made a seven-ton Lear jet vanish before millions of television viewers. The year before that he levitated a $60,000 Ferrari on TV, and before that he dematerialized the entire rock group Earth, Wind and Fire and had it turn up minutes later high on a scaffolding while 20,000 fans gaped.

But the Statue of Liberty, now. Two hundred twenty-five tons of copper and steel, 152 feet high not counting the pedestal, which is some pedestal, if you recall.

A few weeks ago Copperfield landed on the island with a helicopter, a radar screen, a few dozen instant-picture cameras, a couple hundred lights from spots to floods, four Mack trucks with generators on them, a crane to lift the trucks, 300 technicians, and a bi-i-i-g curtain.

He collected a jury of about 20 people, picked off the streets, from recent immigrants to teen-age skeptics to a priest ("we aimed a key light at his collar") and he sat them in tilted chairs on the big lawn behind the statue so that Ms. Liberty appeared to them within the curtained frame. Then he pulled the curtain.

They knew the thing was still there because they could see it as a huge blip on radar monitors. Besides, the cameras surrounding the statue were automatically slipping instant photos of it into locked boxes.

Copperfield stood to one side and concentrated. Frowned, scowled, rubbed his temples, closed his eyes. Abruptly, his head snapped up. He waved. The curtain opened.

The Statue of Liberty was gone.

Nothing but sky there. The radar blip was gone too. The helicopter flew through the empty place. And later, when they took out the photos, the image of the building, so sharp and clear in the first pictures taken, had disappeared.

A lady on the jury said, "I never seen a statue vanish like that one."

You can see it all on the magician's CBS special next April.

"I wanted to make a statement about freedom," Copperfield said. "I wanted to show how fatally easy it is for us to lose our liberties."

Would he say how he did it? Are you kidding?

But he did say this: "There are maybe 10 different principles in magic tricks. They're like the scale in music. You break down even the most complex effect into simple components."

For example: mirrors (not used anywhere near as much as people believe), misdirection of attention, substitutions, false bottoms, tops and sides, the classic sleight of hand and the plain, simple bone-crushing discomfort that is the hallmark of escape tricks.

The 26-year-old Copperfield, who used to be David Kotkin back in Bayonne, N.J., seemed uneasily aware of the effect he has had.

"Sometimes the public gets confused. I get thousands of letters. People say their child has headaches since seeing the program, and can I do anything about it?"

He is wary of "exploiters." Once in Chicago, when he was starring in a musical comedy about magic, "The Magic Man," at age 18, he confronted spoon-bender Uri Geller on the Irv Kupcinet TV show. As he duplicated one Geller trick after another, the self-declared psychic threatened to walk out.

"Real?" he smiled rather wistfully. "I wish he was real. The power of the human mind is almost beyond belief. If you had those powers, you wouldn't bend spoons."

His style is theatric, bringing not merely comedy but some emotion into his magical skits. He has a therapy program, Project Magic, working with arthritic and paraplegic persons on physical dexterity and confidence. He likes to say he was the director of the Liberty effect, for he has directed some films and wants to move into that field, which is natural when you consider film pioneer-magician Georges Melies and of course Orson Welles, who is an amatuer magician.

And on a scale like this, magic tricks can get as expensive and complicated. The Liberty trick cost a half million and required a lot of arm twisting at fairly high governmental levels. Not to mention the time spent "choreographing helicopters." (Was this a hint?)

"All that agony, it's part of the effect. Like Christo's fence in northern California: Part of his art was making it a reality." Christo's cross-country "Running Fence" was 24 miles long.

What is David Copperfield going to make disappear next?

"I dunno," he mused. "The Moon? You got any suggestions? . . . " some films and wants to move into that field, which is natural when you consider film pioneer-magician Georges Melies and of course Orson Welles, who is an amatuer magician.

And on a scale like this, magic tricks can get as expensive and complicated. The Liberty trick cost a half million and required a lot of arm twisting at fairly high governmental levels. Not to mention the time spent "choreographing helicopters." (Was this a hint?)

"All that agony, it's part of the effect. Like Christo's fence in northern California: Part of his art was making it a reality." Christo's cross-country "Running Fence" was 24 miles long.

What is David Copperfield going to make disappear next?

"I dunno," he mused. "The Moon? You got any suggestions? . . . "