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Guccione to Stay On in Penthouse Relaunch

New York – Penthouse, which hit the skids and went bankrupt after going hard-core, is being cleaned up for a $50 million makeover and relaunch this autumn.
The new version will dump its X-rated fare in favor of more tasteful and sensual layouts reminiscent of its heyday in the 1980s.

“The new Penthouse is softer, so we can win back readers and appeal to an even broader audience,” said Marc Bell, the head of an investment group that has committed up to $85 million to revive the bankrupt magazine group.

A bankruptcy court quietly approved the Penthouse reorganization last week, and has set a Feb. 26 date to release the embattled title and its assets from bankruptcy protection.

Bell says he has selected a new management team for the relaunch – though he’s keeping the names secret until next month – and will keep the same staff. Founder Bob Guccione, 71, will remain as publisher emeritus and “the driving creative force for the new magazine.”

The new Penthouse will go after readers of the so-called lad magazines, such as Maxim, who have grown bored with air-brushed models and sophomoric humor, Bell said.

With a cleaned-up image, Penthouse might be able to return to newsstands on military bases and in mass-market outlets. In the 1990s, The Pentagon barred Penthouse for its hard-core content, causing circulation to plummet from 3 million to just 300,000 copies.

General Media, which owns Penthouse, is being reorganized so that its $45 million in debt will be cleaned up for about $35 million in cash and new securities.

Bell’s investment group, including PET Capital Partners and Absolute Return Europe Fund, owns 89 percent of the debt.



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