Guccione tried to open a Penthouse Casino in Atlantic City. However, the New Jersey Gaming Commission was convinced that Guccione had mob ties and, despite lack of proof, refused to license the project. The failed endeavor reportedly cost Guccione $50 million and was never realized.
Despite bad investments, Penthouse remained a solid success, and Caligula was a box office hit. Guccione was listed on Forbes 400 ranking as one of the wealthiest men in America, with a reported $400 million net worth.
Vanessa Williams nude photos published in Penthouse just as she began her reign as Miss America – the first African-American woman to win crown – result in costing her the crown.
Guccione claimed to be,
“a little bit tired of being the heavy in this instance,” adding, “I didn’t take her clothes off. She did.”
This September issue earned Penthouse $14 million in revenue. This same issue had centerfold pictures of a 15-year-old Traci Lords.
Spin music magazine was launched, with Bob Guccione, Jr. named as editor and publisher.
Nude black-and-white photos of Madonna were published in Penthouse.
Televangelist Jerry Falwell filed a lawsuit against Guccione and Penthouse after an interview of his was printed in the magazine.
Guccione paid $45 million in back taxes (to be followed in 1992 by another heavy tax bill, which he would have to borrow $80 million to pay).
After release of the Meese Commission Report on Pornography, many newsstands and convenience stores removed Penthouse from their offerings.
Wanting to do a favor for Meshulam Riklis, one of his biggest advertisers, Guccione agreed to put the billionaire’s wife, Pia Zadora, on the cover of Spin magazine. Bob, Jr., refused, stating that she was not the right image for the magazine. This caused a rift between the Guccione and his eldest son, which deepened as Guccione discovered that Bob, Jr. had registered the property under his own name, preventing his father from taking action. Bob, Jr., having arranged for private funding in order to continue Spin, sacrifices his relationship with his father.
Guccione and Kathy Keeton, both interested in personal appearance and staving off aging, publish Longevity magazine.
The good news is the Berlin Wall has finally come down. The bad news is Guccione’s empire is crumbling too. Readership is on a decline. Bob has no choice but to sell or close many magazines. He also sells much of his beloved art work.