Hollywood’s legendary playboy Hugh Hefner died of natural causes on Sept. 27, 2017. Known for his love of silk robes, black loafers and Playboy bunnies, the 91-year-old lived much of his life surrounded by beautiful, scantily clad women — and envied by men across the globe.
While the Playboy founder kept a low profile during the final years of his life, he spent decades hosting raucous parties at the Playboy Mansion and setting the bar for a lavish lifestyle that many continue to aspire to or emulate today. His legacy lives on in his genius branding and marketing that solidified his place in media and business history.
In memory of the creator of the original world’s best-selling men’s lifestyle magazine, take a look at Hef’s life and money.
Hugh Hefner Net Worth: $50 Million
Hugh Hefner’s net worth might come as a surprise to many because the Playboy Mansion, his long-time Holmby Hills, Calif., home sold for $100 million in 2016. Hef didn’t own the property at the time of the sale, however.
Playboy Enterprises held the deed to the 29-room estate, and Hefner had been paying rent. At the time of his death, Hef was paying the new owner, his next-door neighbor Daren Metropoulos, $1 million per year to rent the home.
Although the rabbit head logo makes Playboy Enterprises one of the most easily recognized brands in the world, the company that pioneered its famous approach to adult entertainment and licensing now fights to compete in a highly saturated market. Depending on how its brand, holdings and subsidiaries are evaluated, the company has been estimated to be worth between $200 million — when it went private in 2011 — and $500 million, when it was considering a sale in 2015, at which time Hefner owned approximately a one-third stake in the company, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Hefner’s $50 million net worth was accumulated not only through Playboy Enterprises but also through lucrative business deals that furthered his reputation as the ultimate playboy. From his “Little Black Book” and other book royalties to income from his TV show and other companies, Hef’s net worth reflects his business savvy.
Hugh Hefner’s Career
An Army veteran, Hef was once an aspiring cartoonist but failed to find success in that business. Instead, he released the first Playboy Magazine in 1953 — and the rest is history.
He took Playboy Enterprises public in 1971, and at the time, there were 23 Playboy Clubs — including resorts, hotels and casinos around the world — with nearly 1 million members. Hef even owned a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 — better known as the Big Bunny jet.
At its peak, the company had expanded from being a publisher to a full family of businesses leveraging the Playboy brand for merchandising and other revenue-generators, including a modeling agency, music and film production companies, and a limousine service. As of the day Hefner passed, Playboy Enterprises stock had a share price of $12.69, according to Nasdaq.
Over the years, Hefner appeared as himself in television shows and films, racking up more than 250 credits to his name. One of his most high-profile efforts was reality show “The Girls Next Door,” which chronicled his life in the Playboy Mansion with then-girlfriends Holly Madison, Bridget Marquardt and Kendra Wilkinson. Most recently, he appeared in the 2017 documentaries “American Playboy: The Hugh Hefner Story” and “What Ever Happened to Norma Jeane?”
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Hugh Hefner’s Awards and Philanthropy
As a cultural icon, it’s no surprise that Hef has received many awards for his work. Some of his most notable honors include the International Publishing Award from the International Press Directory in 1996, an induction into the Hall of Fame of the American Society of Magazine Editors in 1998 and an honorary induction into the New York Friars Club in 2001.
Also a philanthropist, he established the Hugh M. Hefner Foundation in 1964 to assist organizations that support civil rights and civil liberties. He also donated millions to film programs at UCLA and the University of Southern California.
Hugh Hefner’s Wives and Personal Life
At the time of his death, Hef was married to his third wife, Crystal Hefner — the December 2009 Playboy Playmate of the Month. Despite their 60-year age gap, the couple wed in 2012.
He was previously married to Kimberley Conrad — the January 1988 Playmate of the Month — from 1989 to 2010, but the couple was estranged for the last 11 years of their union. His first wife, Mildred Williams, was his college sweetheart. They were married from 1949 to 1959.
The Playboy legend is survived by four children: daughter Christie and son David from his first marriage and sons Cooper and Marston from his second marriage.
Stephanie Barbaran contributed to the reporting for this article.