Hugh Hefner’s death at age 91 marks a new start for one of the world’s most famous homes. Although the original Playboy Mansion was a 70-room, French-style estate in Hefner’s native Chicago where the magazine was headquartered, Hefner later moved to Southern California where he bought the current Playboy Mansion in 1971 for $1.1 million. Built in 1927 in Holmby Hills near UCLA and the Los Angeles Country Club, it is one of America’s most prestigious neighborhoods where celebrities including Humphrey Bogart, Bing Crosby, Walt Disney and Frank Sinatra once lived. The original owner was the son of Los Angeles Broadway department store founder, Arthur Letts.
The entire Playboy party scene was much more than just the 22,000-square-foot mansion with a built-in pipe organ, wine cellar with secret door and bathhouse. Near the famous pool is the licensed zoo with Hefner’s monkeys, flamingos, peacocks and a few real bunnies. Across the street from the mansion is Hef’s much publicized six-acre party compound with rooms for his bevy of beauties called the Bunny Hutch, the iconic grotto, a 70-person staff and a 24/7 kitchen that catered to his upside-down schedule. A tireless worker and marketing genius, many times when the parties were going full bore and being photographed and filmed, Hef was comfortably ensconced in his silk pajamas inside his house working on his next business move. The adjacent Bunny Hutch complex was put on the market in 2013 and sold for $17.25 million.
In early 2016, the Playboy Mansion was put on the market with the unusual requirement granting Hefner a life estate; he would be allowed to live in the mansion for the remainder of his life. The asking price was $200 million, a record price for the United States. It sold in late 2016 to his next-door neighbor, 34-year-old investment heir Daren Metropoulos, who was fine with Hefner sticking around. The sale price was $100 million, a big discount but still a record sale price for a Los Angeles home. Metropoulos is from the family that has resurrected some of America’s most famous brand names including Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer, Hostess Twinkies and Chef Boyardee.
Now that Hefner has died and his widow Crystal Hefner is living in a $5 million contemporary villa in the Hollywood Hills that he bought her in 2013, the value of the Playboy Mansion will probably increase, but Metropoulos apparently plans to keep the entire 7.3 acre complex. Since purchasing the home, Metropoulos has said that he plans to combine it with his home next door that he purchased for $18 million in 2009 from Hefner’s ex-wife Kimberley Conrad. Although the interior of the mansion will have to be stripped out and undergo a total restoration, Metropoulos has indicated that the Playboy Mansion exterior will remain intact.