Penthouse Founder Dead at 79
Bob Guccione built, lost porn empire
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 20, 2010 10:40 PM CDT
In this Sept. 30, 1981 file photo, Danielle Deneux, Penthouse "Pet of the Year" poses with publisher Bob Guccione at a poolside party in his townhouse in New York.    (AP Photo/File)
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(Newser) – Porn pioneer Bob Guccione has died aged 79 after a long battle with cancer. The Penthouse magazine founder built a soft-core publishing empire worth billions, starting out in 1965 with a loan for $1,170 and an idea for a magazine with nude photos more provocative than Playboy's, the New York Times reports. He lost his fortune through bad investments—including a project to develop a small nuclear reactor—Reagan-era censorship, and competition from the Internet. Creditors foreclosed on his mansion in 2006.

Guccione, who was married four times, considering the priesthood before deciding to become an artist. He traveled in Europe and North Africa for over a decade before settling in London, where he founded Penthouse. "Unlike his future arch-rival Hugh Hefner, he did not suffer from sexual shyness and repression,” former Penthouse Forum editor John Heidenry wrote in What Wild Ecstacy, his history of the sexual revolution. “He liked girls, pure and simple, like any average healthy Italian boy from New Jersey."