Hefner "peacefully passed away" from natural causes at his Beverly Hills home, the Playboy Mansion, surrounded by loved ones, according to the announcement. He was 91 years old.
Hefner founded what would become one of the most iconic global brands in American history, Playboy, in 1953. Published in more than 20 countries, Playboy has become the largest-selling men's magazine, which, along with other products featuring the company's trademarks, brings in more than $1 billion annually.
"My father lived an exceptional and impactful life as a media and cultural pioneer and a leading voice behind some of the most significant social and cultural movements of our time in advocating free speech, civil rights and sexual freedom. He defined a lifestyle and ethos that lie at the heart of the Playboy brand, one of the most recognizable and enduring in history," Cooper Hefner, the chief creative officer of Playboy Enterprises said in a statement. "He will be greatly missed by many, including his wife Crystal, my sister Christie and my brothers David and Marston and all of us at Playboy Enterprises."
Hefner received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1980 after leading the way for the reconstruction of the Hollywood sign. He also picked up several other accolades during his career, including getting inducted into the Hall of Fame of the American Society of Magazine Editors in 1998, getting inducted into the New York Friars Club as an honorary friar when he was roasted on Comedy Central in 2001, and becoming a Guinness Book of World Records holder for being the longest running editor of a magazine.
In addition to making many memorable movie cameos in films such as Beverly Hills Cop II and The House Bunny, Hefner left his mark on the world of TV. Not only was he the host of the series Playboy's Penthouse, but he also later starred in the reality show The Girls Next Door, which focused on the lives of his then-girlfriends Holly Madison, Bridget Marquadt, and Kendra Wilkinson. A docuseries about his life, American Playboy: The Hugh Hefner Story, debuted earlier this year.
Wilkinson paid tribute to Hefner in a statement to PEOPLE. “Hef changed my life. He made me the person I am today," she said. "I couldn’t be more thankful for our friendship and our time together. I will miss him so much but he will be in my heart forever."
Marquadt also honored her ex-boyfriend on Instagram. "So sad but forever grateful for all the wonderful memories and amazing experiences," she captioned a photo of herself and Hefner.
Tributes continue to pour in from Hefner's famous friends, colleagues, and fans on social media.