Hugh Hefner's death at the age of 91 marks the end of an era. And while many are rightly lauding the Playboy founder as a cultural force who helped revolutionize publishing and bring the sexual revolution to the masses, we'll pause to honor another, equally iconic part of his legacy: the Playboy Mansion. His 29-room home, a "Gothic Tudor"-style estate, set on 5 acres of the Holmby Hills area of Los Angeles, is an American phenomenon in its own right, sparking the fantasies of generations of men (and women).
So what will happen to the nation's second-most-famous mansion, a place where scantily clad playmates famously partied hard alongside actors, musicians, Nobel Prize winners, and other assorted A-listers?
Well before Hefner's passing, the home sold last year to Daren Metropoulos, a neighbor and co-owner of Hostess Brands, for $100 million. The catch was that Hef could live out the rest of his days in the mansion, and that major renovations would not take place while he was a tenant. Now Metropoulous is expected to move forward quickly on his plans to rebuild the place from the ground up, connecting it to the home next door, which he also owns, to create a 7.3-acre compound.
"I look forward to eventually rejoining the two estates and enjoying this beautiful property as my private residence for years to come," he said in a statement provided to The Wall Street Journal in April 2016, following the sale.
But before all of the Playboy memorabilia is carted off for good, we rounded up some surprising tidbits on the mansion that we thought readers should know.
1. The first Playboy Mansion, in Chicago, is still standing—but there's nary a bunny tail in sight. The original place, complete with a Playmate-ready fire pole leading directly into the basement-level pool, was purchased for $400,000 in 1959 in the Windy City, where Hef founded his mag. But as the editor found himself increasingly enamored with celebrities, he spent less and less time there, finally decamping to the West Coast in the 1970s. The Midwest hasn't been the same ever since! In 1984, he leased out the mansion to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for $10 a year. A real estate company eventually bought the home in 1993 and divided it up into seven condos.
2. Hefner bought the current fortress—at the time dubbed "Playboy Mansion West"—from the famous chess player and engineer Louis D. Statham in 1971, for $1.05 million. Statham invented a device that helped NASA ensure that its spacecraft stayed on course. Hefner invented a mass-delivery system for disseminating pictures of naked women. You make the connection.
3. Don't get in the water! The bacteria that causes Legionnaires' disease, a bad form of pneumonia, was discovered in the whirlpools of the mansion's grotto in 2011. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health had investigated after 120 guests suddenly fell ill.
4. Think the mansion was all fun and games? Think again. Hefner's former girlfriend Izabella St. James claims that the girlfriends had a 9 p.m. curfew every night—unless they were out with the man himself, according to her book "Bunny Tales: Behind Closed Doors at the Playboy Mansion."
5. The room where Elvis reportedly had a memorable night with eightPlayboy Bunnies back in the 1970s was later dubbed the "Elvis Suite." And in the King's honor, it has reportedly been closed to the public ever since.
6. Talk about famous guests misbehaving! John Lennon once put out a cigarette on one of Hefner's Matisse paintings. Hey, he and Yoko were separated at the time.
7. Hefner had the kind of private zoo on the property that may not have been appropriate for the kiddies. Rumor has is that at one time, the city removed several big game animals from Hefner's zoo, after a llama was mysteriously found dead after an all-night rager. The peacocks, macaws, and squirrel monkeys, however, were allowed to stay.
8. The Playboy founder was clearly a fan of wild animals, so much so that one of the special rooms of the mansion was done up in full-on safari motif. That included animal skin rugs, leopard print decor, and lots of safari-themed paraphernalia.
Clare Trapasso is the senior news editor of realtor.com and an adjunct journalism professor. She previously wrote for a Financial Times publication and the New York Daily News. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.