HOLMBY HILLS, Calif.—TMZ has posted a late-breaking story to its site claiming that Playboy shareholders are fighting mad about the falling fortunes of the company, and blame Hef.
The gossip site says it has obtained a class action lawsuit filed by a Playboy shareholder who claims “the company is falling apart and Hugh has intentionally sabotaged two potential deals in the last 6 months to sell the company at a decent price.”
Complaining that "today, the price of a Playboy magazine is far higher than the price of Playboy common stock," the lawsuit also purportedly contains an analysis of the company by an investment firm, that says, in part, "We think the wildcard here is Hugh Hefner. … If you were Hugh Hefner, 81, would you give up the parade of busty blonds, the fancy mansion and the reality TV show for a payout?"
The article does not name any of the plaintiffs in the suit but does say they believe “Hefner runs roughshod over the shareholders and they want unspecified damages.”
It was only a few months ago that Bill Asher, co-chief executive of Vivid Entertainment Group—and a former Playboy executive—told DailyFinance that he owns 1 million shares of stock in the company.
"Playboy is not in trouble," Asher said at the time. "Playboy needs to get a deal. ... Certainly, anybody who has a brain would be interested."
Ironically, considering the reported shareholder lawsuit alleging Hefner has sabotaged pending deals, Asher’s take in December was that the legendary octogenarian was ready to let go.
"I am 100 percent positive that Hefner would sell," Asher said. "They have a lot to offer."