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Hefner's 'Viagra Ring', first Playboy issue sold at auction

Playboy founder Hugh Hefner embraced a hedonistic lifestyle of smoking jackets, multiple "girlfriends" and lavish parties at his legendary mansion. Now, hundreds of fans have paid big bucks for a piece of the myth.

Hugh Hefner
AFP

Items from the late publisher's personal collection -- from his typewriter to the first issue of his iconic magazine featuring Marilyn Monroe -- went under the hammer in Los Angeles in a two-day sale that ended Saturday.


The typewriter, which Hefner used at university and to write copy for the 1953 debut issue of Playboy, sold for $162,500. His personal copy of that issue went for $31,250, according to Julien's Auctions, which organized the sale.


Lucky collectors will soon be able to lounge like the Hef: one of his bespoke red silk smoking jackets sold for $41,600, and his "Viagra Ring" -- a 14-karat gold and onyx ring concealing the little blue pill -- was snapped up for $22,400.


Motorcycle jackets, a limo, a coin-operated jukebox, a pool table from the Playboy Mansion, even Hefner's Hollywood Walk of Fame star -- the array of items for sale was wide.


Hefner's slippers? Up for grabs. Silk pajamas in a range of colors? Yep. Bed linens? That too.


Actor Jim Belushi paid $3,125 for a leather-bound copy of a script from an episode of classic US sketch comedy show "Saturday Night Live" hosted by Hefner in 1977. Belushi's late brother John was part of the cast.


Hefner -- who helped usher nudity into the American mainstream with his trailblazing mass-market magazine, shattering taboos along the way -- died in September 2017 at the age of 91.


The magazine, recognizable worldwide for its voluptuous cover girls and its emblematic rabbit logo, became a sensation not long after hitting newsstands.


But beyond the glossy was the brand, a lucrative empire of nightclubs, television series and apparel. 


All proceeds from the auction will go to Hefner's foundation, which supports civil rights advocacy groups, with a special focus on freedom of speech issues -- a cause dear to the publisher's heart.


An online-only auction of more memorabilia -- a smaller selection than was available at the two-day auction -- will take place on December 17.

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