After a life as famous (or some would say, infamous) as Hugh Hefner’s is no surprise that the international playboy and American magazine publisher has made a lot of money.
The 91-year-old passed away on 27 September 2017, 63 years after first publishing his world-renowned magazine, Playboy. Hefner left behind four adult children, Christie (64), David (62), Marston (27), and Cooper (26) as well as his wife, Crystal Hefner (31).
Cooper, Chief Creative Officer of Playboy Enterprises, had this to say on his father’s death:
“My father lived an exceptional and impactful life as a media and cultural pioneer and a leading voice behind some of the most significant social and cultural movements of our time in advocating free speech, civil rights and sexual freedom.”
Of course, Hugh Hefner is well-known for his extravagant lifestyle. He owned the enormous ‘Playboy Mansion’ and played host to all kinds of parties and enjoyed luxury and decadence. All of which would lead one to assume, Hefner’s net worth was a huge sum.
In that assertion, one would be correct. Gazette Review estimates that in 1971, at the height of Playboy’s success, Hefner was worth $200m. He was thought to rake in around $12m a year just from sales of his magazine. In addition, Hefner founded a media empire of clubs, hotels, and media companies which bolstered his earnings.
A downturn in profits:
Unfortunately for Hefner, it couldn’t last. As more openly pornographic magazines became popular in the 1970s, Playboy tried to compete by trading its famously risqué shots for straight-up pornographic ones. Advertisers were turned off and Playboy became known as something of a ‘trashy’ publication. In contrast, at its inception, it received applause for the depth of its content.
The most recent indication of Hefner’s net worth came in 2009, when, during his filing for divorce from his second wife, Kimberley Conrad, Hefner revealed his total net worth. At that stage it was $43m.
At the time of his death, Hefner was thought to be worth around $50m. He’s owns 35% of the Playboy brand and its licensing deals. He also owned 100% of the actual Playboy magazine. He did not own the infamous Playboy Mansion though.
Playboy Enterprises owned the Playboy Mansion and Hefner paid an annual rent of around $1m per year. In addition, there was the $40,000 per month Hefner paid for food and entertainment. However, in 2016, Daren Metropoulos bought the Playboy Mansion for $100m. The condition was that Hugh and Crystal Hefner could live there until the former’s demise. However, according to Celebrity Net Worth the sale of the iconic mansion may not have been as lucrative for Hefner as it might seem.
Allegedly, Playboy magazine has been trying to sell itself for years. Unfortunately, it hasn’t attracted much attention since the company is in debt after years of declining sales. The sale of the mansion may have paid off some of this debt, but not all of it. Currently, the most profitable area of the business is the licensing arm, but again, apparently this does not bring in enough to entirely wipe away the debt.
Who will benefit from Hefner’s will?
The most obvious recipients of Hugh Hefner’s vast fortune are his children. Christie Hefner is the former chairman and chief executive officer of Playboy Enterprises. Since she was running the empire between 1982 and 2009, his will will no doubt remember her.
In addition, Hefner’s youngest son, Cooper Hefner was described by his father as the ‘heir apparent’ to the Playboy name. He seems like he will probably become the public face of the Playboy brand after his father passed away. However, in the same interview, Cooper denied that he’d picked up his father’s party-hard, polyamorous ways. Could that represent a shift in Playboy’s direction going forward?
There is also Hefner’s wife, Crystal. Seeing as the millionaire already sold their family home, he’ll probably have made sure his wife is well cared-for after he’s gone.
In addition, it is reported that Hefner’s last will and testament will be very generous to his former-girlfriends. He reportedly planned to give $3 million to his ex Holly Madison.
Finally, there are Hefner’s philanthropic gestures to account for. The Playboy Foundation which supports free speech and researches human sexuality is a charitable institute Hefner runs. In addition, he was a supporter of the Democratic Party of America, and a civil rights activist. It’s probable that he left a portion of his fortune to charitable institutions to further these goals too.
Hefner’s burial will take place in the in Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles. There he owns a mausoleum directly beside that of Marilyn Monroe, the first celebrity ever photographed for Playboy magazine in its first issue.