The Los Angeles City Council is considering a bill to make the mansion notorious for hosting Playboy founder Hugh Hefner a cultural-historic landmark.
Paul Koretz, who represents Holmby Hills in the city council, introduced a motion last week citing the Playboy Mansion’s architecture as a reason to award it landmark status. The mansion is “an excellent example of Gothic-Tudor” style, and connected to the neighborhood’s history, Koretz argued.
The mansion’s history traces back to the earliest days of Holmby Hills. Arthur Letts Sr. purchased 400 acres of land in 1919, dubbing the area “Holmby Hills.” The mansion was built for his son Arthur Letts Jr. in 1927. The house on Charing Cross Road was designed by architect Arthur R. Kelly, who would later design the Harvard-Westlake School and the Wilshire Country Club.
The mansion was a high society hangout long before Playboy Enterprises bought it in 1971, but since that time it has been associated with Playboy magazine and Hugh Hefner.
Indeed, a recent New York Times profile of the mansion noted that it had gained a reputation as a party house filled with “hedonistic fun” and “many dark corners.” The Times also noted that women had many negative experiences there over the years.
In his suggestion to mark the mansion as a cultural-historic landmark, Koretz barely mentioned the mansion’s connection to Playboy, LA Curbed reported.
Indeed, Playboy no longer owns the mansion. It sold last summer for $100 million to Daren Metropoulos, the billionaire co-owner of Hostess Brands. As a condition of the sale, Hefner was allowed to keep living in the house until his death, which came in September.
Metropoulos, who owns the house next to the Playboy Mansion, said he was interested in restoring the mansion and uniting the two adjoining properties to create one large estate. Koretz may be trying to prevent this.
While many may be disgusted at the idea of this mansion being a historic landmark, Koretz might argue that his motion has more to do with recalling Holmby Hills’ history than with glorifying Hefner. Even so, the connection with Playboy is not easily ignored.