Before artist Jose Alvarez traveled the world with famed magician and professional skeptic James “The Amazing” Randi, he was Deyvi Pena, a young man from Venezuela with a student visa to study at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale.
Mystery has shrouded Alvarez’s true identity since he was arrested under the name “John Doe” at Randi’s Plantation home on Sept. 8. The legal predicament swirling around Alvarez also raised questions in skeptic circles and beyond: How much is known by Randi, whose very reputation as a truth-seeker may now be jeopardized?
So far, neither Randi nor Alvarez and his attorneys have revealed the artist’s identity, but the Sun Sentinel has learned that Alvarez initially went by the name Pena. As Alvarez, his colorful, modernist paintings have been shown in galleries in New York, San Francisco and Palm Beach.
Source: JREF forum
If “Alvarez” is found to be in the country illegally, he may face deportation. This is a sad situation for many who knew this man from skeptical events. Obviously, Mr. Randi is not permitted to comment on the story.
Update: This article from the Sun Sentinel on Oct 21 reveals the identity of the supposed Mr. Alvarez as Deyvi Orangel Pena Arteaga:
For 24 years, Deyvi Pena used the name, date of birth and Social Security number of a New York man to travel the world on a United States passport first issued to him in 1987. During that time as Alvarez, he became a celebrated artist whose works have hung in exhibitions in New York, Miami and San Francisco.
Pena, 49, and Randi, 83, have remained high-profile figures in the world of skepticism for decades, and Randi is famous around the world for debunking people who profess to have paranormal powers. He runs the James Randi Educational Foundation dedicated to skepticism.
After the hearing, he was released on bail and remains under house arrest.