For obvious reasons, the Playboy Mansion is known as Ground Zero for hedonistic parties in Los Angeles, but there’s more to the Gothic-Tudor than meets the eye.
1. The 4.5-acre Charing Cross Road estate was originally built for Arthur Letts, Jr. Construction started in 1926 and was completed in 1927. Letts moved in with his first wife and two children in 1928, but one wife wouldn’t be enough. He had three marriages and two divorces before his death in 1959.
2. The property sold for $110,200 in 1961 (roughly $1 million when accounting for inflation of the dollar) to “scientist and industrialist” Louis Statham.
3. To the utter shock of neighbors, Playboy Enterprises purchased the property in 1971 for a cool $1.1 million. Over the last four decades, the publication has spent more than $15 million renovating and expanding the property.
4. The original Playboy Mansion was in Chicago. Formally, the Los Angeles estate was known as Playboy Mansion West. Hugh Hefner didn’t move into the Charing Cross Road mansion full time until 1974.
5. The mansion is 21,987 sq. ft and 29 rooms. The estate itself has four guest houses. Playboy also owned the property adjacent to the estate and a third home down the street known as “the Bunny House.”
6. The mansion doesn’t have tunnels to the homes of Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty. This rumor was started by Playboy itself in 2015. Although the publication admitted it was a prank on April 1, 2015, not everyone saw the follow-up story (or else they want to willfully believe) leading to continued whispers of Playboy Party Tunnels.
7. In 2016, Hostess Brands co-owner Daren Metropoulos purchased the estate for $100 million. It was originally listed at $200 million. Metropoulos also purchased the adjacent property from Playboy in 2009.
8. The purchase of the property was contingent on Hefner being allowed to live in it until his death. He finally passed away in September 2017.
9. The mansion has a handful of “secret” rooms and doorways. The wine cellar is accessed through a Prohibition-era secret door. Hefner also had the only key for a locked room hidden behind a secret panel.
10. A long-standing rumor that helped build the early infamy of the mansion is that Elvis Presley had a personal suite. Presley, Hefner, and eight bunnies were the only ones ever allowed in the room, even after the singer’s death.
11. It is one of the few residential properties in the country that has a licensed zoo on the premises. The zoo includes “monkeys, cockatoos, peacocks, African cranes, parrots, toucans, pelicans, doves and the other animals.”
12. While the mansion has been notorious for lavish parties that’s only an outsider’s view of the property. Over the years bunnies have criticized Hefner for being more like a Grandad than a sex fiend. According to British twins Carla and Melissa Howe “when you’re here you have to be in by the 9 p.m. curfew. You’re not allowed to invite any friends up to see you.”
13. It can be kinda gross. In 2011, 123 fundraiser attendees became violently ill after attending a party in the estate’s “Grotto.” The Department of Health found the bacteria credited for Legionnaire’s disease circling the whirlpool. Ew.
14. It wasn’t only bunnies and Hef living on the property. Several celebrities have called the guesthouses home for a time including Shel Silverstein and James Caan.
15. Allegedly, the carpets were old and rarely replaced. Elizabeth St. James claimed Holly Madison’s dogs weren’t house trained and made the carpets even worse.
16. Now that Hefner has passed on the new owner is hoping to combine the neighboring properties into a massive 7.8-acre estate.
17. Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz wants to put the property on the roster of historic-cultural landmarks. If added to the register it would restrict Metropoulos or any future owners from making significant exterior changes or demolishing the property.