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Hugh Hefner, others donate money to save Hollywood sign from developers [Updated]

April 26, 2010 | 10:16 am


Playboy founder Hugh Hefner has come to the rescue of the Hollywood sign on Monday, anteing up $900,000 to help in the effort to preserve the land to the west of the famed landmark.

Another $500,000 matching grant came from the Tiffany Foundation and Aileen Getty, it was announced Monday by the Trust for Public Land, which spearheaded the rally to save the sign in the Hollywood Hills.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had been an early supporter of the effort to save the 138-acre property, attended a news conference to announce that the money had been raised. He said the Hollywood sign is a “symbol of dreams and a symbol of opportunity and hope.”

When Schwarzenegger heard that developers might sell the land to build luxury homes, he said he did "What a Terminator is supposed to do, which is to jump into action.”

The grassroots fundraising effort included residents holding bake sales to raise $12.5 million, which includes a purchase price of $11.7 million and related costs needed to purchase the land back from its Chicago owners.

The Trust for Public Land's leaders say Fox River Financial Resources Inc. executives had sought $40 million for the acreage, which features a spectacular 360-degree panorama of the Los Angeles Basin and the San Fernando Valley. The trust negotiated the lesser amount.

The company paid nearly $1.7 million for the peak eight years ago.

[Updated at 10:21 a.m.: An earlier version of this report incorrectly stated the land surrounds the Hollywood sign.]

-- Ching-Ching Ni

Photo: L.A. City Councilman Tom LaBonge, at lectern, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, second from left, along with Will Rogers, president and CEO of the Trust for Public Land, left, and Chris Baumgart, chairman of the Hollywood Sign Trust, announced that a $900,000 donation from Hugh Hefner of Playboy Enterprises closed the gap on their Save the Peak campaign to buy 138 acres of hillside near the famed Hollywood sign from developers at a news conference. Al Seib / Los Angeles Times