Playboy founder Hugh Hefner has gone to that great lingerie party in the sky. The multimillionaire who brought to life the soft-core, meticulously photoshopped genre of impossibly beautiful women died Wednesday at his Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills, according to the lifestyle and entertainment company he founded in 1953.
The “American Icon,” as Playboy referenced him in its statement, lived a life envied by many men of his generation and beyond, bedding countless women at the Playboy Mansion even into his senior years. Hefner said in 2013 when asked how many women he had been intimate with in his lifetime: “How could I possibly know? Over a thousand, I’m sure.”
While once considered shocking, in the past decade, Playboy came to be viewed as almost wholesome compared to the hardcore varieties that overtook the internet.
Hef, as he was affectionately known, made his mark on Las Vegas, which was an obvious match for his provocative brand that promoted sex, voluptuous women, and a hedonistic lifestyle.
For the average joe, the Playboy Mansion in Hollywood was but a fantasy. But in October of 2006, the Playboy Club opened on the 52nd floor of the Fantasy Tower at Las Vegas’ Palms Casino Resort. Women wearing iconic bunny costumes ran the gaming tables and slung drinks as cocktail waitresses. The Palms venue was, at the time, the first Playboy Club inspired by the brand to open since 1988.
The Playboy brand was used by clubs and casinos around the globe as marketing lure. After the United Kingdom legalized gambling in the mid 1960s, Playboy opened a casino club in 1966 in London.
Hefner later capitalized off the liberalized gaming market in New Jersey. In 1976, voters in the Garden State approved casino-style gambling in Atlantic City.
The Playboy Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City opened in 1981 along the Boardwalk with a 21-story hotel tower that came with 500 rooms. But as good as Hefner was at selling risqué magazines, his enterprise wasn’t as skilled at running an American casino.
The resort almost immediately fell into financial despair, and in 1984, the property was sold and renamed the Atlantis Hotel and Casino. Now-President Donald Trump would acquire the venue in 1989, back in his real estate days, which he rebranded into the Trump Regency, and later Trump’s World Fair. The building was demolished in 2000.
The Suite Life in Las Vegas
The Sky Villa suite, a 9,000-square-foot spread that takes up two floors at the Las Vegas resort, was originally designed to give guests the same feel of Hefner’s Chicago Playboy mansion.
“We wanted something that conceptually represented the lifestyle of the mansion and had its own identity,” then-Palms President George Maloof told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 2006.
The suite reportedly books out at $35,000 a night, and was once rated one of the top five most expensive hotel suites in the world. However, casinos typically reserve these suites as comps for their highest of high rollers. For Hugh Hefner, who took a gamble on a decidely risque publication back in 1953 and turned it into an empire, it seems like a fitting tribute.
Hefner died with an estimated net worth of $43 million.