After 26 years of being together, Guccione married longtime companion Kathy Keeton.
By this time, Guccione had amassed one of the largest private art collections in America, including works by Chagall, Picasso, Renoir and Degas, with an estimated value of $150 million. But, due to reduced sales of Penthouse magazine, he was forced to begin selling his beloved collection.
Guccione reached out to the Unabomber, offering a monthly magazine column – his pitch:
“Penthouse is one of the biggest and most quoted magazines in the history of our industry. For 25 years it was and continues to be the single, biggest selling magazine in the Pentagon. If it’s attention you want, you’d be hard-pressed to do better.” Then, “I am still your only friend in the media.”
Guccione received a letter from the Unabomber in response to the generous offer indicating that he would rather publish the work in a more “respectable” publication.
Not one to be dissuaded by rejection, Guccione published the correspondence in his magazine.
Keeton began treatment for breast cancer.
Penthouse’s circulation had dropped to 1.1 million.
Keeton lost the cancer battle, but Guccione continued to list her on the Penthouse masthead as president. He received permission to bury her on his upstate New York property.
It was rumored that Keeton had handpicked her successor for Guccione – April Warren – who moved into the mansion and becomes Bob’s lover, then forth wife.
Desperate to increase sales of Penthouse, Guccione offered Monica Lewinsky $2 million for exclusive rights to her story – but was never able to strike a deal.
Guccione was diagnosed with throat cancer.
Guccione evicted his son, Anthony, from Manhattan loft. They were no longer on speaking terms.
Just as the World Trade Center had fallen, Bob Guccione’s world headed in the same direction. Financial problems forced him to sell most of what remained of his art collection, and Penthouse’s circulation was down to 530,000.
Guccione filed for bankruptcy. He was nearly evicted from his New York mansion for failing to pay $24 million in back taxes, but a deal was struck with Mexican soft drink heir Luis Molina to cover the debt. Guccione, April Warren and his dogs were allowed to stay in the home. However, his upstate property where Keeton had been buried was seized.
Marc Bell & Daniel Staton bought Penthouse. Even though Guccione was to remain with Penthouse as a paid consultant, the arrangement was never honored. Once the new owners had taken control of the company, Guccione’s office was packed up in one day.
Penthouse became tame in comparison to Guccione’s concepts. The new owners mandated there would be nothing controversial, offensive or political about anything associated with the Penthouse name. And the girls had to smile.
Creditors foreclosed on Guccione’s mansion in Manhattan. He and April Warren moved to Plano, Texas, where they lived in a trailer. Guccione went full circle, and returned to the life of a near starving artist, spending his days painting.
Adult movie director Kelly Holland, who had always admired Bob Guccione, joined Penthouse as Head of Video Production.
Bob Guccione died at age 79 in Plano, Texas from lung cancer.
Kelly Holland buys Penthouse, determined to restore the vision and quality the magazine enjoyed under the guidance of Bob Guccione.