London: Bob Guccione, who started Penthouse magazine, is dead. He was 79, it was reported here Thursday.
Guccione created an erotic corporate empire that crumbled as his investments soured and the world of pornography turned toward video and the internet, Daily Telegraph reported.
He died at Plano Specialty Hospital in Texas, US, after battling lung cancer for several years, said a statement issued by the Guccione family.
Penthouse, which was started in 1965 in England, became highly popular in September 1984 when it published nude pictures of the first black Miss America Vanessa Williams. Williams was forced to hand back the title after the release of the issue that sold nearly 6 million copies.
Guccione started Penthouse to subsidise his art career and he introduced the magazine to the US in 1969.
Hugh Hefner’s Playboy faced a challenge from Penthouse as it offered a mix of tabloid journalism with provocative photographs.
In 1982, Guccione was listed in the Forbes 400 ranking of wealthiest people with a net worth of about $400 million.