Penthouse Founder Bob Guccione Dead at 79

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PLANO, Texas —– The founder and publisher of Penthouse Magazine, Bob Guccione died in Texas Wednesday following a long bout with throat cancer, his family said in a statement. He was 79.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Guccione died at Plano Specialty Hospital in Plano.

The Brooklyn born Guccione, dropped out of Catholic seminary school to pursue his dream of becoming an artist, wandering around Europe for several years working as a painter.

In 1965 Guccione started Penthouse Magazine in England to subsidize his art career and was the magazine’s first photographer. The magazine was later introduced to the American public during the height of the sexual revolution, 1969.

Penthouse magazine quickly set itself apart from Hugh Hefner’s Playboy magazine through its more provocative photos and pension for tabloid journalism, which helped Guccione a mass an estimated $4 billion during his reign as the magazine’s publisher.

In 1982, Guccione was listed in the Forbes 400 ranking of wealthiest people. In 1984 Penthouse magazine took center stage in the media when it published nude photographs of Vanessa Williams, the first black woman to hold the title of Miss America, forcing Williams to relinquish her crown. The issue that sold nearly 6 million copies reportedly made $14 million.

However, Guccione’s empire began to crumble after several bad investments and the advent of internet pornography.

“The future has definitely migrated to electronic media,” Guccione acknowledged in a 2002 New York Times interview.
Though widely known for his role with Penthouse magazine, Guccione was the creator of the popular science and science fiction driven magazine Omni. He also helped his son, Bob Guccione Jr. launch Spin magazine in 1985.

With wide spread financial problems, Guccione’s parent company General Media Inc. filed for bankruptcy and in 2004 a private-equity investor from Florida acquired Penthouse in a bankruptcy sale.

Married four times, Guccione is survived by his five children and wife April, who said services for her husband will be private.

(Photo: AP Worldwide Photos)

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