Sources claim Hugh Hefner suffocated on a toxic cloud of black mold spores that infested the "dank" Playboy Mansion! RadarOnline.com has learned the legendary Lothario — who died on Sept. 27 at 91 — knew he was breathing poison, but stubbornly refused to leave his longtime home.
"Hef didn't have to die," a Playboy source told Radar. But "there was no way he was going to live anywhere else."
Reports have long circulated about the decrepit condition of the one-time sex palace where A-list celebs rubbed elbows — and more — with gorgeous women.
"Everything in the mansion felt old and stale, and Archie the house dog would regularly relieve himself on the hallway curtains, adding a powerful whiff of urine to the general scent of decay," confessed Hef's former girlfriend Izabella St. James.
"The mattresses on our beds were disgusting — old, worn and stained. The sheets were past their best, too."
Only now, though, can Radar blow the lid off the dangers to residents of the imposing mansion off Hollywood's Sunset Boulevard.
The media mogul's third wife, Crystal Harris, suffered fatigue, joint pain, muscle weakness and swollen glands, an insider said.
"It wasn't until someone mentioned the possibility of the mansion having a mold problem that she finally moved out and settled down in Las Vegas," added the insider. "Once there, her symptoms lifted. She's been in good health since."
Hef gave Harris permission to leave the mansion, the source added.
"They covered it up by saying Crystal was doing a lot of deejay work in Vegas. Hef didn't like the optics of both of them leaving," the source said.
Harris only returned to the mansion once Hefner's health worsened.
In February 2011, 123 people complained of fever and respiratory illness after attending an event at the mansion.
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials later attributed the outbreak to their discovery of the bacteria that causes Legionnaires' disease in a whirlpool hot tub in the mansion's famed grotto.
Hef's death certificate listed the cause of death as respiratory failure brought on by cardiac arrest. It also noted a recent blood infection and bout with a drug-resistant strain of E. coli as aggravating factors.
But Dr. Stuart Fischer told Radar the fungus lurking in the home could have weakened Hef, and left him open to such an infection.
"Fungal infections are notoriously difficult to diagnose. In an elderly, debilitated recluse, they can easily cause severe health problems," Dr. Fischer said.
"It could weaken him to such an extent that common bacteria can spread like wildfire through the body and cause sepsis, or bacteria in the bloodstream, then cardiac arrest."
A source added: "The mansion obviously fell into disrepair as Hef's health worsened. But no one outside Hef's inner circle knew the danger of the situation — until now!"
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