The Real Deal Los Angeles

Will the Playboy Mansion become a hotel?

Is snack food heir J. Daren Metropoulos the next Hugh Hefner or a savvy hotelier?

August 01, 2016 05:00PM

  • Print
Daren Metropoulos, the Playboy Mansion and Playboy Bunnies at the Mansion (image credit: Glenn Francis, www.PacificProDigital.com via Wikicommons)

Daren Metropoulos, the Playboy Mansion and Playboy Bunnies at the Mansion (image credit: Glenn Francis, www.PacificProDigital.com via Wikicommons)

From the New York website: In June, the troubled Playboy Mansion, which was listed for a shocking $200 million, sold for just over $100 million. But to whom? It soon became clear that the new owner was Daren Metropoulos, son of the billionaire investor that made his fortune off Twinkies, Chef Boyardee, Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and Bumble Bee tuna.

Though the 90-year-old Hugh Hefner and his wife are permitted to remain in the mansion until Hefner’s death, neighbors and pundits alike can’t help but wonder about the fate of the infamous pleasure palace. 

The Holmby Westwood Property Owners Association, for instance, said the younger Metropoulos, 32, could turn the residence into a hotel. It wouldn’t be the first time: In 2003, he managed the redevelopment of a run-down New York hotel that his father bought for $10.9 million in 2003. Metropoulos tended to the project down to the tiniest details, like choosing the drapery, according to the hotel’s former general manager Gilbert Baeriswil.

“I remember him saying over and over, ‘I want to see more carpet samples,’” Baeriswil told the Times. He added that when he found out that Metropoulos was buying the Playboy Mansion, he reached out to his former boss.

“I told him: ‘Wow! What a purchase! With all of those rooms, you’re going to need an innkeeper,’” he recalled. “And he said: ‘Sounds like a great idea. Let’s put a plan together.’”

Hotel or not, Metropoulos’ neighbors are on full alert.

“Our antennae are up,” said Sandy Brown, the homeowner association’s president. “Any new uses — a private club, some kind of hotel — will certainly get community pushback.”

Very little else is known about Metropoulos, except that he lived next door to the Playboy Mansion, made a fortune when his family sold Pabst Brewing for $700 million in 2014 and was a frequent guest of the mansion, according to the Times.

“He’s not some bratty billionaire’s son in any way, shape or form,” said Andrew van der Vord, co-head of consumer investment at Royal Bank of Canada. “Daren is a quiet, unassuming guy. He’s very polite and considerate. There’s a really nice demeanor to him, actually.”

“I assure you, his interest in the Playboy Mansion is very pure. He’s not the new Hugh Hefner. That’s just silly,” Bill Toler, the chief executive of Hostess, told the Times.

The official line is that Metropoulos wants to restore the rundown property to its “former glory” – something he has done in the past with high-end properties. And rumors have now even surfaced that he could take over Playboy itself, which has been for sale. [NYT]Christopher Cameron