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Penthouse founder Guccione dies following long illness

Bob Guccione, the founder of adult magazine Penthouse, has died in hospital in the US aged 79 after a long battle with cancer.

Penthouse: September 1969 US launch edition

Penthouse: September 1969 US launch edition

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Guccione founded the magazine in 1965 as a racier alternative to men’s magazine staple Playboy and extended the brand to encompass newer forms of media including online.

He was born in Brooklyn, New York, but contrary to popular belief, founded the Penthouse empire in 1965 in London after spotting a gap in the market during a trip to Europe. Frugal beginnings for the magazine meant that Guccione photographed many of the models himself.

His life was filled with controversy, including the publications in Penthouse in September 1984 of nude photographs of the then reigning Miss America Vanessa Williams, which sold almost six million copies and led to Williams' decision to abdicate her crown.

Guccione was also an investor in the soft pornography film ‘Caligula’ starring UK acting luminaries Malcolm McDowell and Helen Mirren.

However, despite founding one of the most successful publishing empires of the past 40 years, in 2004 Guccione lost ownership of his publishing empire following a series of bad investments.

As one adult entertainment company loses its founding star, another is planning an extension of its empire on this side of the Atlantic.

Playboy icon Hugh Hefner has announced plans to open a new branch of his Playboy bunny clubs in London’s Mayfair.

The move will see the Playboy brand, and the infamous Bunny hostesses, return to Europe more than 30 years after the original 45 Park Lane venue closed its doors.

When the venue first launched it attracted famous names – from Hollywood stars to the most famous sportsmen of the day. There were more than 30 Playboy Clubs globally at the height of the brand’s success.

The club, set to open in the first half of 2011, is billed as an entertainment venue featuring a restaurant, lounge, members club, table games and gaming rooms. It is understood that it will be located in the vicinity of the Dorchester and Metropolitan hotels.

Hefner said: "When we first opened the Playboy Club in London it was one of my favourite times for the brand.

"With Playboy now more popular than ever, I look forward to our return to London and again sharing the notions that are celebrated in the magazine, the concept of good food and drink, pretty girls, and exciting entertainment."

The club will be "creatively designed to incorporate influences from the original Playboy Club London that opened in 1966", according to the adult magazine publisher.

The 17,000 square foot property will be spread over two floors is being designed by acclaimed London-based architects Jestico + Whiles.

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