The Life & Times of
Bob Guccione

  • 1930 1930
    1930 1930

    On December 17, in Brooklyn, New York, one year after the start of the Great Depression which saw the crash of the stock market and threw millions of Americans into a state of poverty, the Emperor was born. He was given the name Robert Charles Joseph Edward Sabatini Guccione. His father, Anthony, was an accountant. His mother, Nina, a housewife. Guccione was an Italian-American of Sicilian descent and raised with a Roman Catholic upbringing. He attended the Blair Academy, in Blairstown, New Jersey, where he was remembered for his:

    magnetic personality and colossal egotism

  • 1931

    For a few months, Guccione was briefly enrolled in a Catholic seminary with an eye toward becoming a priest. However, he soon abandoned this pursuit when he realized that a life of celibacy would not suit him.

  • 1952 1952
    1952 1952

    When Guccione was 21, Lilyann Abrams, his first steady girlfriend, became pregnant. Guccione’s Catholic faith denounced abortion … and the U.S. Government prohibited it. But Guccione also believed in marriage and family, and, as a result of faith, the law, and personal belief, the couple married.

    During the period in which the United States was drafting young men to fight in the Korean War, Guccione was determined to be exempt from the draft due to his marital status. Having always been interested in art, and with a talent for sketching and painting, he decided to move himself and his bride to Rome, Italy, where Lilyann gave birth to a daughter, Tonina.

    Gucionne soon found himself greatly inspired by the artwork and history of his ancestors. His fascination of the Roman Empire would impact his life over the decades to come and, in time, resulted in many of his associates and family referring to him as “The Emperor.” For the time being, with a wife and baby to support, he worked as a traveling artist, drawing portraits and cartoons of tourists, while performing fortune-telling on the side.

  • 1953

    While the United States and its United Nations allies continued to wage war in Korea, and fight a different type of battle known as the “Cold War” with the Soviet Union and its allies, such as Cuba, Guccione struggled to survive as an artist in Rome.

    Unbeknownst to him, the first Playboy magazine hit the newsstands in America, with Marilyn Monroe on the cover. It sold more than 50,000 copies. In time, this event, and the continued growing success of Playboy, would alter Guccione’s life.

  • 1955

    Now a free man, Guccione hopped on a steamer to North Africa, where he became fully immersed in the Boeheim life-style while painting, smoking pot and hanging out with the likes of author William S. Burroughs.

    Guccione’s gypsy life lasted less than a year. While in Casablanca, he met an English woman named Murial Hudson. They quickly became romantically involved. And she soon became pregnant, giving birth to Bob Guccione, Jr., before the end of the year.

  • 1960

    Guccione moved to London with Murial. They would live together in sin for several years before marrying in 1966 (and remain husband and wife until 1979). During this period, they would have three more children: Nina, Tony and Nicky.

    To support a wife and four children, he worked as manager of drycleaners. In his spare time, Guccione continued to pursue his artistic interests, and occasionally was able to earn additional money creating cartoons for Bill Box’s humorous greeting card line, Box Cards. He also submitted cartoons to the London American – a weekly newspaper – leading to his being hired as a cartoonist. In short order, Guccione advanced up the chain at the London American and became managing editor, allowing him to quit the laundry business. During this period, Murial was able to supplement the family’s income by starting a business selling pinup posters.

  • 1961

    Still hoping to make his living as a painter, Guccione looked for ways to subsidize his dream. Since he was now working in publishing, he became curious to find out which magazines were selling the best and why. The American magazine Playboy seemed to be doing brisk business in America but was only modestly successful in England, so little so that, while Playboy was into its seventh year of publication, Guccione had not seen a copy until this time. He was immediately intrigued.

    Guccione felt that a men’s magazine such as Playboy could be successful in England if it showcased British models. As the Berlin Wall was being constructed, Bob Guccione began thinking of ways to tear down the invisible walls that he felt restricted and limited the evolution of social attitudes and sexual freedoms. He began a prolonged period of looking for investors who might believe as he did – in both the possibilities for a more risqué version of Playboy to be published in England, and his desire to challenge western society’s repressive thinking regarding sex. However, with such radical ideas, Guccione had trouble finding anyone willing to join his cause.

  • 1965

    After three years of failing to find backers, Guccione committed himself to self-launching the hybrid magazine he envisioned could combine sex, politics, science, and humor, all the while satisfying his bohemian-artist’s loathing for sexual repression and censorship. First, he needed a title.

    Since Guccione’s goal was to top Playboy, it only seemed appropriate that Playboy would provide the inspiration for the magazine he hoped to publish. He came upon an idea for the magazine’s name one night while watching TV.

    Beginning in 1959 and lasting into 1961, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner endeavored to expand his brand into television with the late night syndicated series Playboy’s Penthouse. The one-hour variety/talk show, recorded at Chicago station WBKB-TV, was made to appear as if it was a party at Hefner’s penthouse apartment, with numerous Playboy Playmates and bunnies in attendance, and celebrity guests such as Lenny Bruce, Nat “King” Cole and Bob Newhart engaging in conversation with Hefner, and then performing – some doing standup comedy, others singing. The series failed to interest sufficient sponsors and clear enough stations across America and abroad to stay on the air, and it ceased production after 44 episodes. But one person who saw it was Guccione, and, as a tip of the hat toward Hefner, or perhaps merely a wink and inside-joke, he decided to use part of the series’ title as the name of his magazine – Penthouse. Beyond this, Guccione had no intention of watering down his concept by trying to make it palatable to a TV audience. Nor did he want to publish a magazine that would be tame enough for the conservative climate in America of this period, where a former Army General and hardcore Republican named Dwight D. Eisenhower was serving as President, with Vice President Richard M. Nixon. Instead, Guccione would use the ideas hinted at in Playboy as a springboard and then push the envelope beyond the point that American censorship might allow. Guccione later said of Penthouse:

    “People said it was pornography, and I argued with them. I said, ‘What’s pornography? Censorship is pornography! Repression is pornography!’ I wasn’t just a businessman rationalizing his business; I was a believer!”

    One person who was intrigued by Guccione’s vision was Joe Brooks. He was offered the job of Art Director at a fraction of his current salary. Captivated by Guccione’s “screw-the-world” insouciance and convinced that Penthouse was an idea whose time had come, Brooks found it hard to turn the job down. He said,

    “This was the early days of the Beatles, Carnaby Street, the Who, plus the sexual revolution. You’d meet a girl and basically say, ‘Your place or mine?’ You couldn’t miss with Penthouse.”

    Brooks became Guccione’s first Penthouse employee, and he would stay with Guccione and Penthouse longer than anyone else.

    To produce a magazine, one needs money, something that Guccione did not have. The Penthouse office was in his London apartment. He used a bathroom door and two milk crates as his desk. In a scheme to raise cash through subscriptions, he produced a brochure featuring photos of half-naked girls and sent it out by direct mail. Brooks said,

    “He had bought the mailing lists of priests, convents, members of Parliament, nurses – anyone who would get their nose out of joint.

    There was an immediate outcry: ‘This is pornography! Who is this man?!’”

    Guccione was denounced in Parliament and dubbed a “sex fiend” on the front pages of the London tabloids. He was also accused of violating a Victorian statute against sending lewd materials through Her Majesty’s post. For the next three days, Guccione found himself holed up inside his house with the police waiting outside with a warrant for his arrest. He barricaded himself in, having been advised by his lawyer to sit tight in order to generate maximum publicity. By the time he emerged, his reputation as “the man who brought pornography to Britain” was secure. He paid a £200 fine. What he got in return was worth far more.

    Subscriptions poured in, but money was still tight. Guccione was able to talk writers, cartoonists and artists into working for credit, and deferred or no pay, but photographers wanted payment upfront. Gucionne said,

    “I had no choice, I had to take the pictures myself.”

    To do this, Guccione used compositions from Degas and other artists for inspiration. Joe Brooks said,

    “Bob used light like a master painter, but he has an incredibly dirty mind. It’s a beautiful combination.”

    Guccione admitted that many of his finest pictorials were, in effect, acts of foreplay between artist and model, caught on film. He confessed,

    “It was very … How to say it? It was very attractive: the setting, the intimacy; It’s very difficult not to submit to; so in most cases in the early days, I would sleep with the girls.”

    Guccione’s original idea for the Penthouse logo was to feature a tortoise. He was obsessed with the theme behind the fable “The Tortoise and the Hare,” and further liked the suggestiveness of it in respect to the Playboy Bunny. But, after sketching out some concepts, the tortoise was dropped. The Penthouse Key was used instead.

    Penthouse magazine launched in the United Kingdom in 1965. Its 160,000 print run sold out in five days. This was also the year that Guccione met the love of his life — Kathy Keeton.

  • 1967

    It was the year of the Summer of Love in America, with the Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love” as its anthem. But unlike the Beatles, who were as popular in the U.S. as in their home country of England, Penthouse was still confined to the U.K. (with extended circulation in some parts of Europe). The upside of this was that, by not being published in America, Penthouse was able to begin showing the pubic area of its models, breaking new ground and getting the magazine more free publicity.

    Beyond this, and in an attempt to compete with Playboy in the English marketplace, Guccione offered editorial content that was more sensational and the magazine’s writing was far more investigative than other men’s magazines, with stories about government cover-ups and scandals. Writers such as Craig S. Karpel, James Dale Davidson and Ernest Volkman, as well as the critically acclaimed Seymour Hersh, exposed numerous scandals and corruption at the highest levels of government.

  • 1969

    While American youth, including those of “the Hippy Nation,” came together for a weekend of music and free love near the town of Woodstock, New York, Guccione was engaged in his own sexual revolution. Penthouse launched in the U.S. with full-page newspaper ads featuring artwork depicting the crosshairs of a rifle gun sight centered on the Playboy bunny logo, and the caption:

    “We’re going rabbit hunting.”

  • 1970

    In April 1970, Penthouse introduced its first full frontal nude and achieved its highest ever sales figures to date. Now the “Pubic Wars” were on in America. Although Hugh Hefner stated he would never sink to showing pubic areas:

    “Nine months later,” Guccione says, chuckling, “there was pubic hair in Playboy, because we were killing him on the newsstand.”

    During the Pubic Wars Guccione and Hefner had their only face-to-face encounter. It was at a screening of Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange

    “He snubbed me,” Guccione says. “He shook my hand, said, ‘Nice to meet you’ and disappeared. I never had any bad feelings toward him. He did toward me — with some justification, because we were making serious inroads into his territory.”

    More than just a magazine with gorgeous, hot naked women, Penthouse publishes articles by talented and popular writers, like Alan Dershowitz, Stephen King, Philip Roth, Joyce Carol Oates, and JP Donleavy, and interviews with Germaine Greer, Gore Vidal and Isaac Asimov among others. This allowed Guccione to make the claim that he was not merely “selling sex.” He also explained that his Roman Catholic upbringing made him acutely aware that:

    “every older woman is somebody’s mother and every young woman somebody’s sister.” In his magazine, therefore, the women “were not just blatant sex objects,” Men, he claimed, “really don’t want to see women vulgarized.”

  • 1971

    In August 1971 Guccione introduced the world to the centrefold. Playboy did so the following year. He boasted,

    “Everything was started by us. We were the first to show full-frontal nudity; the first to expose the clitoris completely. I think we made a very serious contribution to the liberalization of laws and attitudes.”

    Guccione stayed ahead of Playboy by taking more risks – introducing the “split-beaver” and girl-on girl photo sets which became a staple in his magazine. Guccione said,

    “Lesbianism was something that was of interest to me, and I recognized that I wasn’t alone.”

  • 1973

    Viva magazine was launched, focusing on nude men and stories geared toward women. Advertisers were reluctant to buy space because of male nudity.

    This was the same year U.S. President Richard M. Nixon was “exposed” in Watergate!

  • 1975

    As the Vietnam War came to an end, a Reason magazine interviewer asked Guccione whether the government ought to be able to place restrictions on the cover price of Penthouse. Guccione replied:

    “I don’t think that Dick Nixon or Gerald Ford have the right, the intelligence, the know-how, or the talent to control anything other than their own bowel movements, and even that is somewhat in doubt.”

    Beautiful naked women were not all that interested Guccione. The naked truth was titillating as well. The magazine covers announced investigative pieces on topics ranging from CIA corruption to the mob, to the sleaziness of the medical establishment. Guccione was named Publisher of the Year by Brandeis University for:

    “his editorial attention on such critical issues of our day as the welfare of the Vietnam veteran and problems of criminality in modern society.”

    Penthouse painter Ori Hofmekler said,

    “Bob has this anti-Establishment desire, almost a desire to hurt fat cats.”

    In the courts, Guccione had to fight off claims brought by televangelist Jerry Falwell; a former Miss Wyoming; and a Penthouse Pet who accused him of forcing her to perform sexual favors for business colleagues.

    Despite allegations, Guccione and his trusted colleague and future wife Keeton surrounded themselves with smart, and savvy women, including Penthouse ad saleswoman Dawn Steel, who became head of Paramount Pictures, and Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, who was hired by Guccione in the late Seventies as fashion editor of Viva.

  • 1976

    During the mid-1970s, Guccione broadened his interest in media to include motion pictures. He helped finance major motion pictures such as 1974’s The Longest Yard, starring Burt Reynolds, and, Chinatown, starring Jack Nicholson, and 1975’s Day of the Locust, starring Donald Sutherland. With these box office successes, and money continuing to pour in from Penthouse magazine, Guccione embarked on his most controversial film project to date with Caligula, chronicling the rise and fall of the notorious Roman Emperor, showing the violent methods he employs to gain the throne, and the subsequent insanity of his reign.

    England’s top-male film star at that period, Malcolm McDowell, as well as acclaimed actors Peter O’Toole, Helen Mirren and John Gielgud were included in the cast. Famed author Gore Vidal was hired to write the script.

    Malcolm McDowell said,

    “Gore called and asked me to meet him in the Penthouse club. I thought it was a rather extraordinary place to meet this famed man of letters. It was well known that he was gay, so I wondered why he’d be meeting me in this club with all these big titted girls. It soon became evident because he told me that the financer was Bob Guccione. He said, ‘Malcolm, don’t worry, this will be Gore Vidal’s Caligula. Just think of Bob Guccione as one of the Warner Brothers.’ Well, if you’re offered the title part of Caligula, written by Gore Vidal, you’d have to be an idiot to say no.”

    Helen Mirren later said,

    “The offer came, and absolutely it scared me, because at that time it was scandalous and shocking stuff. But it was Gore Vidal’s script. It was beautifully written, but it was also extreme and it went where angels feared to tread. It had scenes that were horrific, but it also was wonderful.”

    By December 1975, the budget was $7,000,000 ($31,000,000 in today’s currency).

    Guccione scouted locations in Italy, Romania and Yugoslavia. He told the press,

    “In terms of audience perception of film, Gore Vidal’s Caligula will rank as a cinematic landmark a la Citizen Kane.” Another promise: “This picture will be solidly-based on history; the Vidal script derived from Robert Graves’ translation of second century historians Seutonius and Tacitus.”

    Gore Vidal said,

    “Many of the terrible things that we are going to show in this movie are indeed from history, from the only two sources that we have – Seutonius and Tacitus. And they may be true or they may not be true. Whatever they are, they are representative of something that those who are interested in history have known about for two thousand years, but, until now, have never been – how shall I say? – divulged to the general public.”

    Italian filmmaker Giovanni Tinto Brass was selected to direct. Throughout the 1960s and ’70s, Brass had created many avant-garde films, including the controversial erotic epics Salon Kitty and Senso ’45. He had recently gained notoriety for his court battles to get Salon Kitty cleared of obscenity charges and released in Italy. He also filed a lawsuit against– and was sued by — the makers of that film over the issue of “final cut.” His first demand of Guccione was that he would have the right to “final cut” over Gore Vidal’s Caligula. Guccione, sitting in the producers’ chair for the first time and not knowing better, agreed. He said,

    “I’m not a businessman. I’m an artist. To this very day, I can’t read a, um, what do they call it? – your financial results, you know? – the accountant thing.”

    Kathy Keeton was at Guccione’s side as he put the deal together for Gore Vidal’s Caligula. A Penthouse associate said of the two:

    “They feed off each other, and they are not impacted by reality. I always say that the Guccione theory of economics is, “Expenses should exceed income by 100 percent.”

    Helen Mirren said,

    “Before we started filming, I went to New York for a dinner Guccione was throwing for us on the top floor of the Penthouse building – the penthouse of the Penthouse – and the whole cast was there, and Tinto Brass, the director, and the designer and the producer. Bob Guccione had a certain innocence about him; an American naivety and decency about him. I rather liked him. He was completely up front about who he was. And he was very proud about all this talent he had pulled together. I was sitting at the table next to Tinto when Bob made a toast, raising his glass, saying, ‘We have the best actors in the world in this movie; we have the best designer; we have the best composer; we have the best writer in the history of literature …’, and, at that moment, Tinto Brass leans over and says quietly to me, ‘To make the worst movie.’”

    Shooting began in July 1976 on the back lot of the old Dino De Laurentos studios on Via Pontina, then moved for a planned 13 week stay at the Dear Studios in Rome for interiors. It became a runaway production. Gore Vidal and Tinto Brass clashed. Vidal withdrew from the project and Brass and Malcolm McDowell began rewriting the script.

    August 1976. Filming continued. The scenes were getting more risqué with each new day. McDowell said,

    “Peter O’Tool took it all in stride. I don’t know what was in those cigarettes, but he seemed quite filled with cheer. In fact, he said to John Gielgud, ‘What is a Knight of the Realm doing in a porno movie?’ John was a bit flustered and started to say, ‘Well, I didn’t think…’, and Peter cuts him off and shouts, ‘It’s a porno movie, John! You’re in a porno movie!’”

    Helen Mirren, recalling her first day on the set, said,

    “It was dark and I was driving to the location they had given me directions for, and saw all this light up ahead – all these giant lights, like a flying saucer was landing. And they had built this huge set, although you couldn’t see any of it from the outside, just this giant structure of unpainted lumber. So I walked into this beautiful, incredible set, filled with naked people – disabled people and deformed people; beautiful people; young people; and old people; all naked. And then I go to meet Peter O’Toole. And he was smoking dope like it was cigarettes. And he has all these sores all over his face, and tissue paper they have put on him to keep the oozing puss separated. We spoke for a moment, then I excused myself and walked outside and fell to my knees in the middle of the field and threw up. I was that frightened for what I had let myself in for, and knowing I’d have to go on this journey, which was like taking acid.”

    Principal photography finally wrapped in early 1977. The budget had swollen to over $16,000,000 ($70 million today), and the spending was yet over. Then Brass and Guccione clashed. Law suits were filed and there were numerous court battles concerning the editing. The Italian court ruled that Brass could finish his “final cut” director’s edit. After that, Guccione could do whatever he liked with the film. But Brass dragged his feet throughout the remainder of 1976 and all of 1977. Finally, in 1979, Guccione paid Brass to leave the project. He finished the cutting himself, and also added hardcore footage which he had shot on the Caligula sets before they were torn down.

    More court battles followed as Guccione tried to release the film. No distributor would touch it, so he rented out movie theaters, city-by-city, and opened the movie himself. The film was confiscated by police and obscenity charges were filed. Guccione considered all this to be free publicity as he slowly and deliberately targeted one city after another throughout 1980 and ’81. He continued to win in court, which continued to be covered in the press … and that brought more free publicity.

    Caligula would become one of the top grossing films for both 1980 and 1981.

  • 1978

    Even as the Caligula editing wars dragged on, Guccione and Kathy Keeton, who together had a passion for science, launched Omni, a magazine devoted to science and science fiction.

    Also during the year, Guccione was named “Publisher of the Year” by the Atlantic Coast Independent Distributors Association.

  • 1979

    Viva magazine folded, but Penthouse reached its peak at 4.7 million copies sold. Regarding the success of Penthouse magazine, Guccione said,

    “We followed the philosophy of voyeurism – to see her as if she doesn’t know she’s being seen. That was the sexy part. That was the part that none of our competition understood.”

    Guccione, flush with cash despite the continuing costs over Caligula, started investing in a serious art collection with works by Dali, Picasso and Matisse, among others. He also turned his New York City connecting townhouses into his “palace,” making it one of the largest mansions in New York. With profits continuing to roll in, he also bought an estate in Staatsburg, New York.

    But money can’t buy everything. Even after Caligula was finally completed and ready for release, U.S. customs officials seized the footage when Guccione attempted to bring it into the U.S. Its planned 1979 release was postponed and Guccione embarked on two years of legal battles as he slowly released the movie, one city and one country at a time.

  • 1980

    Upon its release in the U.S., Roger Ebert called Caligula:

    “sickening, utterly worthless, shameful trash.”

    The hype was so great that people went in droves to see the film. Cast member Helen Mirren described Caligula as:

    “an irresistible mix of art and genitals.”

    Even with all the trouble over Caligula, Guccione had boundless energy and limitless ideas. In March, he formed a partnership Robert Bussard and turned over, as he later recalled, some $400,000 in startup funds to develop a nuclear fusion plant which he believed would solve the world’s energy problems. By his own account, Guccione spent close to $17,000,000 on the project. It would never see completion.

  • 1981

    Guccione tried to open a Penthouse Casino in Atlantic City. However, the New Jersey Gaming Commission was convinced that Guccione had mob ties and, despite lack of proof, refused to license the project. The failed endeavor reportedly cost Guccione $50 million and was never realized.

  • 1982

    Despite bad investments, Penthouse remained a solid success, and Caligula was a box office hit. Guccione was listed on Forbes 400 ranking as one of the wealthiest men in America, with a reported $400 million net worth.

  • 1984

    Vanessa Williams nude photos published in Penthouse just as she began her reign as Miss America – the first African-American woman to win crown – result in costing her the crown.

    Guccione claimed to be,

    “a little bit tired of being the heavy in this instance,” adding, “I didn’t take her clothes off. She did.”

    This September issue earned Penthouse $14 million in revenue. This same issue had centerfold pictures of a 15-year-old Traci Lords.

  • 1985

    Spin music magazine was launched, with Bob Guccione, Jr. named as editor and publisher.

    Nude black-and-white photos of Madonna were published in Penthouse.

    Televangelist Jerry Falwell filed a lawsuit against Guccione and Penthouse after an interview of his was printed in the magazine.

    Guccione paid $45 million in back taxes (to be followed in 1992 by another heavy tax bill, which he would have to borrow $80 million to pay).

  • 1986

    After release of the Meese Commission Report on Pornography, many newsstands and convenience stores removed Penthouse from their offerings.

  • 1987

    Wanting to do a favor for Meshulam Riklis, one of his biggest advertisers, Guccione agreed to put the billionaire’s wife, Pia Zadora, on the cover of Spin magazine. Bob, Jr., refused, stating that she was not the right image for the magazine. This caused a rift between the Guccione and his eldest son, which deepened as Guccione discovered that Bob, Jr. had registered the property under his own name, preventing his father from taking action. Bob, Jr., having arranged for private funding in order to continue Spin, sacrifices his relationship with his father.

  • 1989

    Guccione and Kathy Keeton, both interested in personal appearance and staving off aging, publish Longevity magazine.

  • 1990

    The good news is the Berlin Wall has finally come down. The bad news is Guccione’s empire is crumbling too. Readership is on a decline. Bob has no choice but to sell or close many magazines. He also sells much of his beloved art work.

  • 1991

    After 26 years of being together, Guccione married longtime companion Kathy Keeton.

  • 1994

    By this time, Guccione had amassed one of the largest private art collections in America, including works by Chagall, Picasso, Renoir and Degas, with an estimated value of $150 million. But, due to reduced sales of Penthouse magazine, he was forced to begin selling his beloved collection.

  • 1995

    Guccione reached out to the Unabomber, offering a monthly magazine column – his pitch:

    “Penthouse is one of the biggest and most quoted magazines in the history of our industry. For 25 years it was and continues to be the single, biggest selling magazine in the Pentagon. If it’s attention you want, you’d be hard-pressed to do better.” Then, “I am still your only friend in the media.”

    Guccione received a letter from the Unabomber in response to the generous offer indicating that he would rather publish the work in a more “respectable” publication.

    Not one to be dissuaded by rejection, Guccione published the correspondence in his magazine.

  • 1996

    Keeton began treatment for breast cancer.

    Penthouse’s circulation had dropped to 1.1 million.

  • 1997

    Keeton lost the cancer battle, but Guccione continued to list her on the Penthouse masthead as president. He received permission to bury her on his upstate New York property.

    It was rumored that Keeton had handpicked her successor for Guccione – April Warren – who moved into the mansion and becomes Bob’s lover, then forth wife.

  • 1998

    Desperate to increase sales of Penthouse, Guccione offered Monica Lewinsky $2 million for exclusive rights to her story – but was never able to strike a deal.

    Guccione was diagnosed with throat cancer.

  • 1999

    Guccione evicted his son, Anthony, from Manhattan loft. They were no longer on speaking terms.

  • 2002

    Just as the World Trade Center had fallen, Bob Guccione’s world headed in the same direction. Financial problems forced him to sell most of what remained of his art collection, and Penthouse’s circulation was down to 530,000.

  • 2003

    Guccione filed for bankruptcy. He was nearly evicted from his New York mansion for failing to pay $24 million in back taxes, but a deal was struck with Mexican soft drink heir Luis Molina to cover the debt. Guccione, April Warren and his dogs were allowed to stay in the home. However, his upstate property where Keeton had been buried was seized.

  • 2004

    Marc Bell & Daniel Staton bought Penthouse. Even though Guccione was to remain with Penthouse as a paid consultant, the arrangement was never honored. Once the new owners had taken control of the company, Guccione’s office was packed up in one day.

    Penthouse became tame in comparison to Guccione’s concepts. The new owners mandated there would be nothing controversial, offensive or political about anything associated with the Penthouse name. And the girls had to smile.

  • 2006

    Creditors foreclosed on Guccione’s mansion in Manhattan. He and April Warren moved to Plano, Texas, where they lived in a trailer. Guccione went full circle, and returned to the life of a near starving artist, spending his days painting.

    Adult movie director Kelly Holland, who had always admired Bob Guccione, joined Penthouse as Head of Video Production.

  • 2010

    Bob Guccione died at age 79 in Plano, Texas from lung cancer.