New Playboy Mansion Owner Strikes Deal to Preserve Historic Estate

Courtesy of Jim Bartsch/Hilton & Hyland; Courtesy of subject

The office of L.A. city councilmember Paul Koretz has secured a permanent protection covenant with Daren Metropoulos that applies rules governing which renovations can and can't be done.

The Playboy Mansion — one of Los Angeles’ most iconic properties — will not enter the city's roster of historic-cultural landmarks due to a unique agreement reached between the local councilmember’s office and the Playboy Mansion’s new owner, Daren Metropoulos.

The office of L.A. city councilmember Paul Koretz has secured a permanent protection covenant with Metropoulos, which is tantamount to a legal commitment from the 34-year-old billionaire businessman who co-owns Hostess Brands that he will not demolish the main residence, will repair the façade of the structure and will maintain the original condition of the home as part of an upcoming renovation.

The covenant reverses a move by Koretz last year, who indicated that he would seek landmark status for the home which would have required a five-member Cultural Historical Commission to survey the Charing Cross Road property, offer its judgment on the designation of some or all of the estate and then submit a report to the L.A. City Council. This permanent protection covenant, which will remain with the property regardless of future owners, allows both sides to avoid a potentially drawn out and contentious process which has ensnared other iconic Hollywood-pedigreed properties in recent years.

“I’m extremely passionate about its architecture and look forward to this momentous opportunity to transform one of the finest estates in the country. As Mr. Hefner was aware, I plan to meticulously refurbish the property with the highest quality and standards in mind,” Metropoulos said in a statement. “I want to thank Councilman Koretz for working with me to develop an understanding of my vision to restore the mansion while modernizing and replacing important mechanical systems in the structure.”  

A spokesperson for the L.A. Conservancy which works to preserve historic cultural and architectural resources in L.A.was not aware of the details of the Playboy Mansion covenant and declined to comment at length but did say that the agency accepts conservation “easements” that pass from owner to owner of a particular property.

When Metropoulos bought the five-acre Holmby Hills property in August 2016 for $100 million, the deal stipulated that Hugh Hefner would be allowed to live there for the rest of his life. When Hefner passed away in September, Metropoulos was free to pursue his renovation plans, which included combining the Playboy Mansion with a neighboring property that Metropoulos purchased in 2009, which increases the total footprint of the property to 7.3 acres.

Architect Arthur R. Kelly designed the Gothic-Tudor home, which was built in 1927 for Arthur Letts, Jr., the son of Broadway department store founder Arthur Letts. Playboy Enterprises acquired the property in 1971. 

Determining what parts of L.A. history require protections from the city can get tricky, if not downright heated. In 2016, preservationists and city officials found themselves at odds with the heirs of the Bob Hope estate in Toluca Lake after they halted demolition and scrambled to get the property historically designated. Hope’s daughter, Linda, accused the L.A. City Council — specifically Councilman David Ryu —  at the time of overstepping their bounds and botching a preservation-minded sale that was already underway. The L.A. City Council ultimately voted against granting historic status.