By Clark Collis
Updated October 21, 2010 at 08:08 AM EDT

Penthouse magazine founder and longtime editor-in-chief Bob Guccione has died at the age of 79, according to the AP. A statement issued by the Guccione family says he died at at Plano Specialty Hospital in Plano, TX. The publisher had battled lung cancer for several years.

Guccione launched Penthouse in the U.S. in 1969 as a more explicit competitor to Playboy. The magazine proved hugely successful and by 1982 Forbes was estimating that Guccione had a net worth of $400m. In September 1984, an issue of Penthouse which featured nude photographs of reigning Miss America Vanessa Williams sold almost 6 million copies. But over the next two decades, the magazine’s circulation declined and in 2004 Guccione lost ownership of the magazine.

Guccione also produced and financed the hugely controversial film 1979 film Caligula. The movie starred Malcolm McDowell, Helen Mirren, and Peter O’Toole and featured explicit sex scenes which Guccione himself directed.