LONDON – Entrepreneur Paul Raymond, whose pornography and property empire made him one of Britain's wealthiest men, has died, his office said Monday. He was 82.
The Paul Raymond Organization confirmed that Raymond had died, but did not provide a date or cause of death.
Known as the King of Soho, Raymond was the founder of Raymond Revuebar, one of London's first and most famous strip clubs and a landmark in London's entertainment district.
He also published a range of glossy soft-core magazines with names like Razzle, Men Only and Mayfair. For a time he owned a playhouse, the Whitehall Theater, staging racy farces such as "Yes, We Have No Pyjamas."
When police cracked down on the Soho sex trade in the 1970s, Raymond bought up properties at knockdown prices, becoming one of the area's biggest landlords. Last year, the Sunday Times Rich List estimated his worth at $1.3 billion. Many suspected the true figure was even higher.
Born Geoffrey Quinn in Liverpool in 1925, the son of an Irish trucker, Raymond left school at 15, determined to break into show business. He worked as a carnival mind reader and vaudeville impresario before moving into the world of nude entertainment.
In postwar Britain, nudity was allowed on British stages only if the subjects did not move. Raymond presented shows with models posed in topless tableaux, including one in which they were winched across the stage on platforms.
Later he circumvented the law by operating Raymond Revuebar as a private club, charging membership fees at the door. The club became a Soho landmark, its huge neon sign proclaiming it "The World Center of Erotic Entertainment." Raymond sold the club in 1998 and it closed in 2004.
Raymond largely withdrew from public appearances after his daughter Debbie died of a drug overdose in 1992. He is survived by two sons.
Funeral details were not immediately available.