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Playboy Auction Pulls in Millions

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Dec 18, 2003 12:00 AM PST    Text size: 
NEW YORK, NY – Just in time for Playboy's 50th anniversary, the famed men's magazine proved to the world that it was still worth the price of admission.

Playboy's highly anticipated auction at Christie's International auction house in New York went off without a hitch this week and pulled in an estimated $2.7 million based on sales from 300 Playboy momentos.

According to CNN, the pre-sale estimate for the entire auction was between $1.5 million and $2 million.

Among the colorful collection of Playboy relics were original manuscripts by famous Playboy editorial contributors like Jack Kerouac, Ian Fleming, and Ray Bradbury, and a vintage Playboy bunny suit that got sold for $14,340.

Some of the auction's big ticket items sold for over $100,000, including Tom Wesselmann's "Study for the Great American Nude" that went for $107,550, and a LeRoy Neiman piece that went for more than $110,000.

The Wesselmann nude was reportedly one of Hugh Hefner's favorites and hung in his bedroom for years.

An Alberto Vargas painting, a style that became synonymous with the Playboy brand name in the 1960s, went for a reported $71,700, and even Hefner's 1988 Mercedes Benz stretch limousine brought in as much as $77,675.

One of the more anticipated items on the auction block was Hefner's personal "black book" of private contact information for famous celebrities and Playboy bunnies, which sold for a whopping $9,560.

A 1953 Playboy centerfold of a young Marilyn Monroe sold for $17,925. The photo was published in a special Playboy edition released without a date so that it could remain on newsstands indefinitely.

Other sales items included original photos of Bo Derek, Elle Macpherson, Elizabeth Taylor, Cindy Crawford, and other famous women who have appeared on the pages of Playboy over the years. Photographs by Helmut Newton and Herb Ritts were also up for bid.

Hefner's personal Playboy Club key card was thrown into the mix, as well as his personal correspondence with celebrities like Frank Sinatra, Fred Astaire, and Woody Allen.

In November of this year, Playboy celebrated its 50th anniversary with a special January 2004 issue. Playboy welcomed in its fifty years as a men's entertainment icon with a star-studded gala in New York, this week's auction, and plans for a New Year's Eve party at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles.

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