Meet The Playboy Mansion’s New Owner

LOS ANGELES — Last month, when the 32-year-old co-owner of Hostess Brands plunked down $100 million for the Playboy Mansion, the snickering was instant: Hugh Hefner’s pleasure palace had sold to the maker of snack cakes like Twinkies and Ho Hos.

The buyer, J. Daren Metropoulos, heir to a fortune built on Chef Boyardee meatballs, Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and Bumble Bee tuna, sure seemed to fit the playboy bill. He was the kind of guy who, judging by a quick web search, could put even Mr. Hefner to hard-partying shame. One photo showed the young tycoon posing with a P.B.R. tall boy on a private jet while wearing sunglasses and a trucker hat. Another found him whooping it up at the Playboy Mansion with Snoop Dogg and several Playmates.
A sordid TMZ moment resurfaced — a former girlfriend, the 2002 Playmate of the Year, claimed in a 2009 lawsuit (since dismissed) that Mr. Metropoulos had assaulted her — and a close relationship with his older brother only appeared to complete the picture. As Evan Metropoulos once told a night life reporter for The New York Times, as Daren lounged nearby, “I’ve been with more chicks than any fat guy you know, except Pavarotti.”

Classy.

But something didn’t quite add up. For a start, none of the usual suspects in Los Angeles knew this supposed mover and shaker. I called party promoters, paparazzi, neighbors (Daren Metropoulos has lived next door to the Playboy Mansion in Holmby Hills since 2009) and Hollywood agents who make it their business to know everyone in town with money to burn. Their repeated response: “Daren who?”

Mr. Metropoulos and his family, including the patriarch, C. Dean Metropoulos, declined interview requests. So did Mr. Hefner. Two real estate agents who worked on the sale, which includes a stipulation that Mr. Hefner, 90, and his wife, Crystal Harris, 30, can continue to live in the mansion until his death, did not respond to queries, although a third agent involved, Jeff Hyland, added an interesting tidbit: The Metropouloses had tried to buy the Playboy Mansion six years earlier and failed.

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