February 15, 2010

USA: Playboy mogul, 83, sued for 'desires'

. SYDNEY, NSW, Australia / The Sydney Morning Herald / Life & Style / People / February 15, 2010 By Philip Sherwell, New York FOR nearly four decades Hugh Hefner has revelled in a life of hedonistic indulgence and excess in the faux Tudor and Gothic opulence of the 29-room Playboy Mansion. The founder of Playboy magazine has enjoyed the company of a revolving harem of hand-picked Playmates and thrown legendary parties lavish even by Los Angeles standards, while overseeing an adult entertainment empire. Hugh Hefner The 83-year-old, often pictured in his red velvet smoking jacket, has shown no sign of allowing advancing years to affect his libidinous lifestyle. But Hefner is now being sued by a disgruntled shareholder who claims he is putting his sybaritic desires above the interests of a business that has been in financial free-fall in recent years. Los Angeles investor David Brown alleges that ''Hef'' sabotaged potential deals for the sale of Playboy Enterprises late last year because he wanted to cling to his hedonistic existence. His lawsuit claims that, in spite of Playboy's huge losses in recent years, ''Hefner has continued to live the good life and make sure everyone knows it''. It cites various reports that the prospective deals were scuppered by Hefner's desire ''to support a gluttonous lifestyle'' and ''to continue staying at the Playboy mansion until his death''. Despite his personal fortune, the mogul does not own the mansion. He pays rent for partial use of the estate, an arrangement unlikely to survive a company takeover as the property has been an integral part of the business brand since its purchase in 1971. Playboy Enterprises is a publicly listed company but Hefner holds 70 per cent of voting shares, effectively giving him a veto over any decision. He also remains editor-in-chief of the magazine that he first published with a young Marilyn Monroe on the cover in 1953. Three potential buyers for the stricken business backed out of talks in November and December last year after Hefner allegedly ''scuttled'' hopes of a deal. TELEGRAPH [rc] Copyright © 2010. Fairfax Digital