BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Playboy Enterprises Inc. CEO Scott Flanders is leaving as the company explores a sale and sells its mansion.
Ben Kohn, managing partner at private investment firm Rizvi Traverse Management, has been named interim CEO of Playboy.
Flanders, who received Playboy’s top slot in 2009, is joining eHealth Inc., a private health insurance exchange, as its CEO. He will remain on Playboy’s board of directors and retain a five to six percent ownership stake in the company.
“Scott has expressed his desire to return to the helm of a public company and this is an incredible opportunity for him,” Kohn said in a statement.
It was Flanders who orchestrated the adult entertainment magazine’s move away from nudity in its U.S. edition in search of more eyeballs. But since its March edition, the company has been subject of acrimony by some for its landmark move to toss out naked ladies.
Recently, Hugh Hefner’s son, Cooper Hefner, ripped Flanders for the nudity ban, saying that he didn’t agree with his vision for the storied brand.
Upon announcement that Playboy was “putting its clothes back on" last year, Flanders said the magazine “served its purpose.”
“When [Hugh] Hefner launched the magazine in 1953 nudity was provocative, and today it's passé,” Flanders said at the time.
Flanders came to Playboy in 2009 and later changed the media company’s strategy involving harder porn. It sold off some of its digital properties, including ClubJenna and GFY, and shed its Playboy TV division in a deal involving MindGeek.
Earlier this year, Playboy hired investment bank Moelis & Co. to look into a possible sale that could fetch up to $300 million.
Today, XBIZ reported that the Playboy mansion was sold to its next-door neighbor for an undisclosed price.
Playboy was seeking approximately $200 million for the Holmby Hills, Calif., property. But local real estate agents said the mansion was likely to go for between $80 million and $90 million.
According to terms of the sale, Hugh Hefner, who holds about a one-third stake in the company, has the right to remain in the mansion for the rest of his life.