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Hugh Hefner’s Playboy mansion, like most iconic houses in the world—think Elvis Presley’s Graceland or Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch, comes with its own set of certifiable facts and urban legends.
In what was touted to be the biggest real estate deal in LA at the time, the Playboy mansion, located on the super posh Holmby Hills in Los Angeles, was sold for a whopping $100 million to Hefner’s neighbour, Daren Metropoulos, who described the house as a “masterpiece in design”.
The Architect Behind the Playboy Mansion
The Gothic Tudor mansion was built in 1927 for department store magnate/real estate mogul Arthur Letts Jr. It was designed by Arthur R. Kelly, an American architect who specialized in designing residences in the Spanish Colonial Revival style and Tudor Revival style.
Playboy Enterprises bought the mansion in 1971 for $1.05 million—which makes it sale in 2016 an almost 100 fold increase—from renowned chess player and space engineer Louis D. Statham.
Architect Ron Dirsmith, a fellow in architecture at the American Academy in Rome and New York’s National Academy of Design, is credited with the redesign of the mansion, including the famous grotto, a witness to some of the most “colourful” poolside parties thrown by Playboy.
Size Does Matter
The 21,987-sqaure-foot mansion sits on 5.3 acres and comprises 29 rooms! A house this big sports all the exclusive, customized rooms that only a millionaire playboy businessman like Hugh could appreciate: catering kitchen with walk-in fridge and freezer, a wine cellar that can be accessed through a secret Prohibition Era door, theater with built-in pipe organ, gym, tennis court, six bedrooms (including a two-level master bedroom), six full bathrooms, two half-bathrooms, a great hall with 22-foot ceilings, and four offices.
Hugh Hefner Mixed Business with Play
The game house is toward the right of the main entrance and features a pool table in the centre. This room has vintage and modern arcade games, pinball machines, player piano, Wurlitzer jukebox with jazz recordings, television, stereo, and couch.
The game house has two wings. Left is a room with a soft cushioned floor, mirrors all around, television. There is a restroom with a shower. The right wing of the game house has a smaller restroom, and entrance to a bedroom. This bedroom is connected to another, which has an exit to the rear backyard of the game house. The game house has a backyard with lounge chairs, and gates on either side.
A Fantasy Outdoors
Imagine having a wishing well on the external courtyard of your house! The Playboy mansion has a beautiful fountain placed right outside the main entrance as well as a wishing well. Landscaping includes a large koi pond with artificial stream, a small citrus orchard and two lush forests for tree ferns and redwoods. There’s an outdoor kitchen and bar, and a bathhouse with changing rooms, sauna, gym, and tanning area.
Playboy Mansion with a Private Zoo
What’s missing in a mansion this lavish and colourful? Nothing, not even a licensed zoo! The Playboy mansion is one of a select few private residences in Los Angeles with a zoo license. Birds such as peacocks, macaws, flamingos, toucans, and ducks roam the grounds and we hear the squirrel monkeys complete the ensemble cast.
In the book “The Bungalow: America’s Arts & Crafts Home” (New York, Penguin Studio, 1995), actor Peter O’Toole, in response to being asked about the Playboy mansion, said: “What God would have done if He’d had the money”. Do we see you nodding your head in agreement?