American businessman Hugh Hefner died Sept. 27, 2017. Mr. Hefner, known as “Hef” to many, died in his mansion, the Playboy Mansion, named in celebration of Playboy, the famed softcore porn magazine he founded in 1953.
Playboy was about actualization through sophisticated consumption of status goods, including the high-class nudes and literary writing of Playboy magazine itself. Issues of Playboy from different eras look incredibly dated because they were incredibly of their moment.
Mr. Hefner’s publication launched the careers of countless women featured in his wildly successful and culture-defining masturbatory-aid publication. At the time of his death Hef no longer owned the Playboy Mansion, but as part of the sales agreement, he was entitled to occupy it until his death.
Hef set out to embody the lifestyle he was selling. But now he’s dead and there’s just a pile of old stuff to be dispersed.
Los Angeles, California – (October 12, 2018) – Julien’s Auctions, the world–record breaking auction house, will celebrate the rebel, entrepreneur and activist who launched the ground breaking men’s lifestyle magazine and built it into an empire by transforming Playboy into an iconic global brand. PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF HUGH M. HEFNER will take place on Friday, November 30 and Saturday, December 1, 2018 live in Los Angeles and online at www.juliensauctions.com. It was also announced today that all proceeds of the auction of the legendary magazine founder, who was recognized as one of the leading voices in the ongoing battles for freedom of expression, civil rights and sexual freedom, including reproductive and LGBT rights, will benefit The Hugh M. Hefner Foundation. Since its founding in 1964, the Foundation has supported organizations that advocate for and defend civil rights and civil liberties, with special emphasis on First Amendment rights and rational sex and drug policies.
SILK ROBE AND BOOK
This is the first of dozens of robes, bathrobes, pajama sets, smoking jackets, and slippers rocked by Mr. Hefner, who was a homebody of sorts, and he was frequently photographed sporting an ultra-casual look which also implied he was frequently in bed. Included in this lot is a copy of the book Inside the Playboy Mansion. Below are a few more examples of Mr. Hefner’s raiment, bespoke and off the rack. As near as we can tell, he was a size 10 shoe, size 16 or M in shirts, and a 42R jacket.
We wonder what this stuff smells like. Has it all been cleaned, or is it as-is? Playboy was a magazine, which smells of ink and paper. Playboy Sex was glossy-surfaced unreality at a remove. The idea of real secretions becomes unsettling.
MASTER BEDROOM SHEETS
HOLLYWOOD SIGN ORIGINAL BULB
Hugh Hefner was instrumental in preserving the HOLLYWOOD sign, and this is an interesting memento, if you’ve got the stash in your slide to win the bid.
VICTORIAN GOTHIC REVIVAL HALL CHAIR
There are quite a few Victorian, Louis the XVI, etc. furnishings up for auction from the mansion, and this one seems to be attracting quite a bit of attention, bidwise. We have a vision of Mr. Hefner in his dotage sitting in this chair in the mansion, and it’s very quiet.
SILVER SPECIALTIES STERLING COIN
This special coin in inscribed with an enigmatic affirmative statement: “IT’S FUCKIN’ INCREDIBLE!” We figure this is sort of an inside-jokey stock answer to any one of a number of questions.
Mr. Hefner seemed to enjoy the trappings of his magazine’s empire; the logo, the myriad branded items, photos and artwork created by Playboy for Playboy and frequently in celebration of Playboy enterprises and its events and/or Mr. Hefner.
In this particular auction, Hefner’s connection to the Highbrow is vanishingly thin. There’s not much Contemporary artwork outside of illustrations. He had mere reproductions of a Dali, a Pollock and a De Kooning, but he owned an original Tony Curtis.
LEROY NEIMAN PORTRAIT
Compared to a Leroy Neiman portrait of Hugh Hefner, the only art more specifically of its moment and now tacky might be a Patrick Nagel portrait of Hugh Hefner.
PATRICK NAGEL PORTRAIT
Mr. Hefner also owned sculptural art.
HUGH HEFNER “HEFNER’S BABY OIL”
FARRAH FAWCETT TORSO STATUE
We’re not 100% sure if this is a statue of the late famed ‘70s sex symbol Farah Fawcett’s torso and/or a statue created by Ms. Fawcett, in light of the property description: “A black patinated bronze statue of Farrah Fawcett’s torso on a black granite base. Presumed to be made by Farrah Fawcett and signed illegibly on the base.” We’re familiar with Ms. Fawcett’s public struggles with substance abuse, and for us, the “signed illegibly” comment strikes strikes an even deeper melancholy note than the rest of the Hefner detritus.
BOUND SET OF PLAYBOY MAGAZINES
Used stroke mags? Maybe these were the display copies and there was a different set for everyday use?
If the full-scale Frankenstein statue on wheels and the roomful of books with photos of boobies didn’t establish that the true ideal Playboy reader was a 12-year-old boy, consider this model airplane, and the altitude it’s already attained above its $300 top-end estimate. Mr. Hefner had a real plane, but the scale model of the Big Bunny might be worth more cash than the actual Big Bunny now.
FIXTURES FROM THE GROTTO
If you win the bid on these you might want to give them a good scrubbing with disinfectant.
Mr. Hefner owned dozens of board games, and he’s the only person we know of who had personalized Monopoly money. Do you think he was one of those people who liked to run the bank so he could swipe money?
BOWLING BALL, ROLLER SKATE AND BOOK
That’s roller skate, singular. “A vintage Brunswick Crown Jewel gold bowling ball engraved ‘Hef,’ together with a single vintage leather roller skate. Accompanied by a copy of Mr. Playboy: Hugh Hefner and the American Dream (Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, 2008). Ball, diameter, 9 inches.”
Mr. Hefner owned many modestly-priced and good watches, but we are stuck by the absence of any really high-end ones in this auction, no Rolex, no Patek Philippe.
Late in his life, Mr. Hefner, in photos, favored these captain’s hats, and we just hope someone is around to advise us if we ever decide it’s time to sport a skipper’s hat.
PLAYBOY 20th ANNIVERSARY NEEDLEPOINT
We thought about bidding on this but we decided against it because we’re still hung up on worrying about if any of the stuff from the mansion smells like old man.
The penultimate item, in this brief survey culled from over 800 lots, is the pièce de résistance of the entire doom-haunted catalog. Unremarkable, opulent, revolting.
HUGH HEFNER BEEF CARVING TROLLEY
We’ll leave you with this, and if you’re thinking about bidding on any items, be sure to register: PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF HUGH M. HEFNER (#3215). Good luck.
UPDATE: The Beef Trolley went for $7,500. We hope the new owner enjoys it in good health and a hearty appetite.