Hustler Founder Larry Flynt’s personal collection up for auction

By Zeke Reed

Larry Flynt built a pornographic empire through his Hustler brand. Photo by Shutterstock.

Larry Flynt built a pornographic empire with his Hustler brand of magazines, casinos, gentlemen’s clubs, retail stores, and adult films. 

Like his competitor Hugh Hefner, Flynt was viewed alternately as a profiteer objectifying women and a pioneer defender of free speech who pushed social boundaries. 

He was also famous for his lavish taste and obsessive art collecting. His home and offices were adorned with thousands of paintings, ornate lamps, statues, and obscurities, including a gilded commode

After his death two years ago, much of his collection is being sold off by the storied auction house Abell, which has handled the estates of many Hollywood royalty. There was an auction in December, and there’s another one coming up February 9. 

Journalist and author Joel Stein visited the collection and wrote about it for LA Magazine. In his words: “I horribly misunderstood what was being auctioned off before I got to see it. Larry Flynt was a peddler of particularly scuzzy pornography, and so I just pictured … like Patrick Nagel, cocaine-inspired black and silver sleaziness. But instead, his collection is dictator chic, which is the kind of thing that Trump is into or you see it in Vegas. It's that fake Versailles ornate furniture and paintings. The only naked people in the paintings I saw were Angel babies.”

During the December auction, Flynt’s notoriety led many of the items to sell for well over their appraised value. For Stein, it indicates that his reputation has been thoroughly rinsed. 

“All of the disgust is gone. And if people even remember him, they probably remember the movie and Woody Harrelson, and they think Hustler is cool. I mean, there's all these Hustler stories across the nation now.”

Stein suggests this reappraisal of Flynt’s impact ignores some of his ugly past. 

“When he was accused of treating women like meat, he had a cover of Hustler [that’s] just a visual of a woman going legs last into a meat grinder. Some of the stuff was overtly misogynistic.”

For collectors unbothered by this association, the remainder of his estate will be up for auction online.