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Bob Guccione, founder of Penthouse, dies at 79

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Bob Guccione and Andy Warhol

Bob Guccione, the Penthouse founder and lifelong tabloid staple, has passed away at the age of 79. Guccione (above, at left), who formed the nudie magazine in 1965, was one of the most important figures of the American sexual revolution of the late 1960s and early 1970s — and he arguably had the furthest to fall when the internet and even trashier sources of porn brought him to the brink of failure.

Here are some facts about Guccione, who died in Texas of complications related to lung cancer… although we're guessing a lifetime of parties and beautiful women may not have helped. (Or did they actually keep him alive?)

Penthouse was supposed to be a side project to help boost Guccione's art career. Instead, it took off and soon rivaled Hugh Hefner's Playboy with its more graphic images and Penthouse Pets.

Penthouse beat Playboy in sales for several years, mostly thanks to its sole claim to fame: "The magazine's pictorials offered more sexually explicit content than was commonly seen in most openly sold men's magazines of the era, being the first to show female pubic hair, then full-frontal nudity." (So says Wikipedia.)

-also founded the science magazine Omni and the health magazine Longevity

-was responsible for the film debacle known as Caligula, which was his attempt at mainstream porn. It instead lost millions for its investor, Bob Guccione

-saw his million-plus readership decline by more than 90% in the last ten years alone. Penthouse has a circulation of less than 200,000 at present and could be closer to 100,000 by year's end.

-was once one of the richest men in the country. However, the last time we heard anything from him in the press, he was selling off all of his assets, including his famed art collection and mansion, and moving to parts unknown.

The rest of his life isn't as depressing, but it's just as interesting. The Associated Press has all the sordid details, which is just how Bob would've wanted it.