Bob Guccione once lived like a king. The founder of Penthouse magazine, Guccione was once enormously wealthy (he made the Forbes 400 list in the early '80s), and he resided in a massively ornate townhouse off Fifth Avenue decorated with neo-Classical female busts, Byzantine style fountains, and carved marble commodes (above). Then he got a little too ambitious and tried to expand his empire by building a nuclear power plant (no joke) and a casino (slightly more plausible, but no more successful), and by the early '00s—just as the Internet was making his flagship magazine increasingly irrelevant—Guccione's business went bust.
Yesterday, a few of the remaining testaments to Guccione's heyday hit the auction block. Some two dozen of the most God-awful pieces you've ever seen were put up for sale (photos here)—although unsurprisingly, bidders weren't exactly climbing over one another to scoop up Guccione's old possessions. (The commodes, for example, which were expected to go for $1,000-5,000 a piece, each sold for a mere $200.)
As for the townhouse, which was seized by creditors after Guccione went bust and later purchased by Phil Falcone, the Times reports that the hedge fund mogul has "largely gutted it" since acquiring the home for $49 million in March 2008.
Guccione can take some comfort knowing his manse is in the hands of a kindred spirit. Falcone may seem like a more respectable figure given he made his money in finance, not porn, but considering the way the public has been treating the titans of Wall Street in recent months, it's hard to say which profession carries more prestige these days.
Like Guccione, Falcone has made a few dubious investments of his own, such as plunking down $500 million for a 20 percent stake in the New York Times Co. last year. And whereas Guccione once used his manse to house porn stars, Falcone's given up a bedroom in the manse to house his pet pig named Pickles. Sure, Falcone appears to lead a more sedate existence compared to the life the Penthouse founder led in the swinging '70s. But at the same time, we can totally imagine that Falcone and his wife Lisa Maria would have been regular guests at Guccione's parties had they been around back then. Now that the Falcones own the manse, they can now reenact Guccione's wild soirées anytime they want, of course. Let's just hope they leave Pickles out of it.