End of Hefner Era at Playboy: Family Sells Shares for $35 Million

Hugh Hefner, the iconic founder of the Playboy magazine and entertainment empire, died on September 27, 2017, at the age of 91—but the Hefner era lived on as his family maintained control of about one-third of the company shares. But no more. According to a report by the entertainment news site The Blast, the Hugh Hefner Trust, which held the shares, has agreed to sell them for a price of $35 million.

The cash will be divided among Hefner’s four children and his widow, former Playboy Playmate Crystal Harris, who married Hefner in 2012.

The sale is divided into two phases, according to The Blast report—a sale of 800,000 shares for a $15 million price tag, with another million shares held in an escrow account until they are paid off with a $20 million loan.

The buyer is Icon Acquisition Holdings, the company that purchased control of Playboy from Hefner in 2011. But Hefner remained with the company as editor-in-chief of Playboy magazine, which he founded in 1953, using a $1,000 loan from his mother.

Hefner quickly became far more than the magazine’s editor, not only attaining celebrity status but also serving as the public spokesperson for America’s quickly liberalizing attitudes toward sexuality in the 1950s and 1960s.

But in January, the investment firm that backed the 2011 buyout, Rizvi Traverse Management LLC, announced that it would shutter Playboy Magazine after 65 years in print, choosing instead to refocus on what it called “The World of Playboy”—which primarily meant turning Playboy into a licensing company that leases out the Playboy brand name, instead of creating original Playboy products, or publishing the magazine.

One of Hefner’s sons will continue to be employed by the company, but will have no financial stake or investment in Playboy, The Blast reported.

Photo via ABC Television/Wikimedia Commons Public Domain