About a week-and-a-half ago, the investor group Fox River Financial Resources Inc., which was asking a price tag of $12.5 million, agreed to delay the sale deadline until April 30th. To help reel in the cash, the conservation group leading the effort, the Trust for Public Land, made a plea to Californians to donate the final million dollars.
But with less than five days to go, Californians had only raised roughly $100,000 and the trust needed a big donor to step up to the plate.
At a press conference Monday, officials announced that Playboy founder Hugh Hefner had come to the rescue and that would enable the trust to buy the 138-acre piece of land and turn it over to the city to become part of nearby Griffith Park.
"My childhood dreams and fantasies came from the movies, and the images created in Hollywood had a major influence on my life and Playboy," Hefner said in a statement. "As I've said before, the Hollywood sign is Hollywood's Eiffel Tower and I'm pleased to help preserve such an important cultural landmark."
It seemed like a simple, storybook ending, but the deal was long in the making and included a conglomeration of donors.
Two years ago, the acreage was put on the market for $22 million until the investors, who planned to develop the plot into luxury homes, agreed to sell it to the trust for $12.5 million. The investor group had acquired the land in 2002 from Howard Hughes' estate for $1.7 million.
Philanthropist Aileen Getty and The Tiffany & Co. Foundation each donated over $1 million. Hollywood stars, such as Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, film studios and Los Angeles residents also raised money for the cause.
And now, thanks to Hefner's last-minute saving grace, the famed sign set atop the scenic Hollywood Hills should remain without any homes to obscure it.
See homes for sale in Hollywood, Calif. at AOL Real Estate.