THE founder of top-shelf men’s magazine Penthouse has died aged 79.
Bob Guccione died in hospital in Plano, Texas, after a long battle with cancer.
Penthouse, founded in 1965, was billed as a more graphic alternative to the relatively classier Playboy.
While Playboy employed top writers and lured leading female stars to pose for pictures, Penthouse was more focused on X-rated sex.
Guccione married for the first time before the age of 20, and had his first child, Tonina.
He then moved to Rome to pursue his passion as a painter, and while there he befriended and painted with Picasso and Matisse.
He travelled widely, and became friends with William S Burroughs and other ex-patriot American writers. After marrying again he had four more children, Bob Jr, Nina, Tony, and Nick.
Former Penthouse editor John Heidenry said: “Unlike his future arch-rival Hugh Hefner, he did not suffer from sexual shyness and repression.
The lost tomb of Caligula has been found, according to Italian police, after the arrest of a man trying to smuggle abroad a statue of the notorious Roman emperor recovered from the site.
After reportedly sleeping with his sisters, killing for pleasure and seeking to appoint his horse a consul during his rule from AD37 to 41, Caligula was described by contemporaries as insane.
With many of Caligula’s monuments destroyed after he was killed by his Praetorian guard at 28, archaeologists are eager to excavate for his remains.
Officers from the archaeological squad of Italy’s tax police had a break last week after arresting a man near Lake Nemi, south of Rome, as he loaded part of a 2.5 metre statue into a lorry. The emperor had a villa there, as well as a floating temple and a floating palace; their hulks were recovered in Mussolini’s time but destroyed in the war.
The police said the statue was shod with a pair of the “caligae” military boots favoured by the emperor – real name Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus; as a boy, Gaius accompanied his father on campaigns in Germany; the soldiers were amused he wore a miniature uniform, and gave him his nickname Caligula, or “little boot”.
The statue is estimated to be worth €1m. Its rare Greek marble, throne and god’s robes convinced the police it came from the emperor’s tomb. Under questioning, the tomb raider led them to the site, where excavations will start today.
Bob Guccione had tried the seminary and spent years trying to make it as an artist before he found the niche that Hugh Hefner left for him in the late 1960s. Where Hefner’s Playboy magazine strove to surround its pinups with an upscale image, Guccione aimed for something a little more direct with Penthouse.
More explicit nudes. Sensational stories. Even more sensational letters that began, “Dear Penthouse, I never thought I’d be writing you…”
It worked for decades for Guccione, who died Wednesday in Texas at the age of 79. He estimated that Penthouse earned $4 billion during his reign as publisher. He was listed in the Forbes 400 ranking of wealthiest people with a net worth of about $400 million in 1982.
In 1984 it was the magazine that took down Miss America, publishing nude pictures of Vanessa Williams, the first black woman to hold the title. Williams, who went on to fame as a singer and actress, was forced to relinquish her crown after the release of the issue, which sold nearly 6 million copies and reportedly made $14 million.