Hefner closes gap to buy land near landmark

Nearly 140 acres behind the iconic Hollywood sign will be saved from development as the result of donations from some of entertainment’s largest companies and orgs, along with a final $900,000 from Hugh Hefner that closed the gap in the $12.5 million fund-raising effort.

Hefner’s gift, announced Monday, capped a yearlong drive by the Trust for Public Land (TPL), which began with $1 million gifts each from the Tiffany & Co. Foundation and Aileen Getty.

Hollywood leaders donated $3.2 million, including major gifts from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, CBS, the Entertainment Industry Foundation, Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall, the Lucasfilm Foundation, NBC Universal, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Steven Spielberg, 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros. Entertainment, Time Warner and the Walt Disney Co. Foundation. Other Hollywood con tributors include Creative Artists Agency, Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson and Norman Lear.

“My childhood dreams and fantasies came from the movies, and the images created in Hollywood had a major influence on my life and Playboy,” said Playboy founder Hefner. “As I’ve said before, the Hollywood sign is Hollywood’s Eiffel Tower and I am pleased to help preserve such an important cultural landmark.”

In April 2009, TPL signed an option to buy the 138 acres behind and to the left of the sign’s “H,” stretching west to Cahuenga Peak. The land was bought in 1940 by industrialist Howard Hughes, who intended to build a home for his girlfriend, actress Ginger Rogers.

But the r elationship ended and after Hughes died, his estate sold the property in 2002 to a group of Chicago investors. They put the property on the market two years ago for $22 million. It was zoned to build four luxury homes.

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