Playboy mansion is undergoing renovation even as rest of California remains under coronavirus lockdown
Even as most of California is under lockdown in a bid to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, it looks like things are as busy as ever at the Playboy Mansion, which is currently undergoing a major renovation.
Pictures taken outside one of the side entrances of the mansion in Los Angeles and obtained by TMZ show the historic property completely enveloped in scaffolding. There was also excavation equipment lying around, though it was unclear what it was being used for in the reconstruction.
The mansion is no longer owned by Hugh Hefner or his estate, with the Playboy founder having sold it to his neighbor, billionaire Daren Metropoulos, for $100 million just before his death in 2017.
In March 2018 he struck a deal with city officials in which the mansion would be permanently protected — regardless of future owners — but would not be subject to the normal restrictions attached to historic landmarks or monuments.
In November 2017, after Hefner's death, Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz sought landmark status for the mansion in the hope of protecting the architectural integrity of the estate for what he called "an excellent example of a Gothic-Tudor." Metropoulos' "permanent protection covenant" deal with the city ensured this did not happen.
Had Koretz's plan been successful and seen the mansion designated a historic landmark, Metropoulos would have faced a lengthy process for permitting and review for the rehabilitation of the property. It would have also seen Metropoulos likely involved a contentious and potentially drawn-out legal action between himself and the City of Los Angeles.
That agreement ultimately further locked in the billionaire's commitment to "not demolish the main residence and will repair the facade of the structure while maintaining its original condition as part of his extensive renovation."
However, it also gave him room to transform the mansion without a landmark status and to modernize, renovate, and repair it "following a long period of deferred maintenance" while under Playboy ownership. He said at the time that Hefner had been aware of his renovation ambitions before his death and, now, finally seems to be moving ahead with those plans.
It is still unclear how Metropoulos will be changing the mansion, with the scale of reconstruction indicating that the renovations will not be completed for some time yet.
Metropoulos was originally planning to connect the adjacent home he owned, a mirror with the Playboy Mansion and restore both estates to their original versions when he bought it from Hefner.
The move would make sense since both mansions were designed by American architect Arthur R Kelly, and each estate has a common boundary with the Los Angeles Country Club.
Actress Barbi Benton had convinced Hefner to purchase the 21,987-square-foot, 29-room mansion in 1974, and it has since earned quite a name for itself due to the numerous lavish parties it has hosted for celebrities and socialites.
The mansion has also hosted charity events, including Karma Foundation, the Celebrity Poker Tournament, a fundraising party for the Marijuana Policy Project, and an event to support research into autism.