Secrets of Playboy by A&E looks at the Playboy Mansion through the eyes of the models and individuals who worked there, and it doesn’t paint a pretty picture. The models provide vivid descriptions of the cult-like nature of the residence and the influence Hugh Hefner had over everyone at the Mansion.
The star-studded parties organized by Hugh ended years before Playboy’s pioneer passed away. Playboy continues to grab headlines, however, as emboldened models tell harrowing stories of abuse and manipulation.
The legend surrounding the Playboy Mansion will remain for the considerable future, which might benefit the pockets of its current owner.
Businessman Daren Metropoulos purchased Playboy Mansion for $100 million
Businessman Daren Metropoulos bought the property next to the Playboy Mansion in 2009 for $18 million and set his sights on Hugh’s castle.
He bid for the Mansion for $75 million a year after moving to the lucrative Holmby Hills. Hefner rejected the offer as he wasn’t interested in selling the property.
Metropoulos moved for the Mansion again after Playboy Enterprises listed it for $200 million. Daren bought the property at half the listed price on the condition that Hugh and his wife, Crystal Harris, would live there until his death.
The property passed to Daren after Hugh Hefner’s death in 2017. Hefner didn’t leave his wife homeless or penniless: he left her $5 million and a 5,900 square foot house in Beverly Hills. After completion of the purchase, Daren released the following statement:
“The Playboy Mansion is one of the most iconic properties in the world and the crown jewel of Holmby Hills and the platinum triangle. For the last 45 years, Mr. Hefner has imbued the estate with a rich and storied legacy. The property’s heritage is not only that of a famous address; it is a true masterpiece in design.”
Daren Metropoulos is the son of billionaire businessman Dean Metropoulos. Dean built his fortune by purchasing dying brands for cheap, making them profitable again, and selling them at a profit. Daren dropped out of college to work with his father and is an adept businessman. His company bio reads:
“Through his experience, passion and detailed focus in overseeing the resurgence and reshaping of these companies top to bottom, Daren has developed a particular expertise in creating and executing innovative sales and marketing strategies designed to connect brands with contemporary audiences, regain relevance and propel product growth and awareness in the marketplace and pop culture.”
Daren’s plan for the Mansion after its renovation remains unclear
Daren initially stated that he planned to link the Playboy Mansion with his next-door property. Architect Arthur R. Kelly built the adjacent properties as one property for department store mogul Arthur Letts, Jr. It was jointly known as Wolfskill Ranch and covered 7.3 acres.
After acquiring the estate, Daren and the City of Los Angeles agreed to protect the property from demolition. He also obtained a permit to extensively renovate the Mansion after a period of ‘deferred maintenance.’
Hefner neglected the Mansion in his twilight years: models claimed that the dog urine and feces filled the dilapidated building. An outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in 2011 confirmed that Hugh’s former property wasn’t hospitable.
In a July 2016 article for The New York Times, Brooks Barnes described the Playboy Mansion as follows:
“It was gross. The famous grotto pools reminded me of one of those fetid animal enclosures at a low-rent marine exhibit. Don’t get me started on the bathroom off the Mansion’s main hall. There is a separate house that contains arcade games and has bedrooms with carpeting I could only describe as crispy.”
Photos from The Daily Mail show that extensive renovations have taken place. Renovators have filled the famous grotto pool, replaced the roof, and added new extensions on either side of the unchanged main building.
It’s unclear what Daren plans to do with the Playboy Mansion after the renovations. In 2018, he allowed Quentin Tarantino to shoot Once Upon a Time in Hollywood inside the property. “The timing was excellent, as the property has already begun to transform back to its original grandeur and has never looked more impressive,” Darren told The Hollywood Reporter.
Daren has renovated estates before, including a Castle at Tarrytown in New York. The purchase and improvements to Hugh’s former residence represent his most significant investment in real estate. Daren has rebuilt things before and profited; the Playboy Mansion might become his most profitable rebuild yet.
“These brands, no matter how badly they’ve been mismanaged, cannot be killed over time,” Daren and his brother talked to Time about reviving brands. “They just need a fresh perspective.”
Could Daren be the new Hugh Hefner? He is a party boy with an air of mystery around him, so he fits the bill. However, his neighbors are unlikely to allow it. “Any new uses – a private club, some kind of hotel – will certainly get community pushback,” the president of the local property owners’ association told the Times.