picture via Chicago Tribune

picture via Chicago Tribune

Hugh Hefner put out the first issue of Playboy in 1953, which had Marilyn Monroe’s nude picture. By 1959 he had enough money to buy a 70-room, 30,000 sq. ft, Chicago mansion where he rented the rooms to Playboy models and nightclub employees for $50 a month. No men were allowed to live in the house. 

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The Los Angeles estate that would later become the Playboy Mansion was a 21,987 square foot house that sat on a 5.3 acres of property. It was built in 1927 for Arthur Letts Jr, who was the son of Arthur Letts, the founder of the Broadway Department store. The house itself was designed by the famous American architect Arthur R. Kelly. 

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In 1971, Playboy Enterprises bought the Los Angeles mansion for $1.1 million. Hefner would go back and forth between LA and Chicago but he eventually just stayed in LA and sold the Chicago mansion, which was converted into condominiums in 1993. 

picture via Los Angeles Times

picture via Los Angeles Times

The mansion has a total of 29 rooms, including a game room, a wine cellar and a screening room with a built in pipe organ. There are 12 bedrooms and a master suite that spans two floors. On the property is a four bedroom guesthouse, a gymnasium, a tennis court, an orchard and the giant swimming pool with the notorious swim-in grotto (fake cave). 


The Playboy Mansion employs 80 full time workers to keep it up. The house alone is 21,000 square feet. Plus, there’s the grounds around the house, security detail, electrical and plumbing services. 

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The mansion has its own Zoo license because of the dozens of animals that live there. There is also a pet cemetery on the grounds to keep a resting place for Hefner’s pets. Peacocks and other animals are known to roam freely through the rolling lawns and formal gardens. While we are on the topic of special licenses the mansion has, it has its own permanent fireworks permit. 

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The Playboy Mansion is infamous for being the ultimate party house to the rich and famous. But you have to get an invite from Hugh Hefner himself. So much history has happened on that property that there is actually an in-house biographer who’s job is to update the nearly 3,000 volumes of scrapbooks kept in the library. Lots of things have been recorded, but probably a lot more not. 

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There’s a rumor that there are secret tunnels beneath the mansion that act as secret passageways for celebrities who want to keep their party lives private. In March 2015, playboy.com put out blueprints that were discovered of tunnels that went from the mansion to the houses of Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson and James Cann. Then on April 1, 2015, Hugh Hefner said it was all a hoax for April’s Fool’s Day. 

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Hugh Hefner is also an art lover and collector. There’s a very impressive and expensive collection at the mansion that would make many museums jealous. There’s a tale that John Lennon was at the mansion in the 70’s, looking at a painting from Henri Matisse then he put his cigarette on it. Hefner had the painting restored and Lennon reportedly was allowed to keep visiting.

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Mike Tyson was once invited over to the mansion for to watch a film. Apparently, Hugh Hefner has very strict rules for movie-night and hates disruptions. Tyson fell asleep during the film and his phone kept ringing. He was so tired that even the ringing didn’t wake him up. Mike Tyson wasn’t allowed back for movie night again. 

Another time a celebrity broke the rules was when Luke Wilson told the mansion staff that he was coming over with his brother Owen Wilson, who is also a movie star. Instead he appeared with his friend and got “DNA’ed.” Which means Do Not Admit. He was banned for 18 months.  

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In 2011, party attendees after a mansion bash got sick with fevers and respiratory illnesses. The disease outbreak was traced back to the infamous hot tub in the grotto. They found the bacteria Legionella pneumophila which can cause Legionnaires’ disease.  

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Perhaps the most legendary story that allegedly happened at the Playboy Mansion was when Elvis Presley had a sleepover with 8 Playboy Bunnies in the 70’s. Rumor has it that the room was then closed off to the public and called the “Elvis Suite”. 

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Even though Hugh Hefner lived in the mansion, he never technically owned it. Playboy Enterprises purchased the property and Hugh’s name was never on the deed. He rented the house from the company for $100 a year. 

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In 2016, Hugh Hefner sold the Playboy Mansion for $100 million. It was the biggest home sale ever recorded in Los Angeles county. As part of the deal, Hefner was allowed to live out his years in the mansion for $1 million a year in rent. Hugh Hefner died in 2017 at 91 years old. Allegedly all the arcade games, statues and gargoyles were included in the sale. 

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Daren Metropoulos, son of billionaire investor Dean Metropoulos, now owns the Playboy Mansion. The house got a much needed renovation and is now as a location for corporate activities, charitable events, civic functions and tv/film production.