By Mike Stone
(Reuters) - Playboy Enterprises [ICONAP.UL], the owner of Playboy magazine, is exploring a sale, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters, in a move that comes after the storied magazine stopped publishing nude photos of women and put up the iconic Playboy Mansion up for sale.
The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news, said the company could be valued at more than $500 million.
Hugh Hefner, who founded Playboy in 1953, took the company private in 2011, along with private equity firm Rizvi Traverse Management, in a deal that valued the company at $207 million.
In February, the company stopped publishing nude photos, saying they had become outdated due to the plethora of free pornography on the Internet.
Circulation of Playboy, also known for its bunny ears, has dropped from about 5.6 million in 1975 to around 800,000 in recent years.
Investment bank Moelis & Co is advising Playboy on the sale, the source told Reuters.
The company in January put up the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles for sale for $200 million, making it one of the highest asking prices for a private residence in the United States.
Playboy Enterprises was not immediately available for comment, while and Moelis & Co declined to comment.
(Reporting by Mike Stone in New York; Additional reporting by Anya George Tharakan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)