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Inside the Reignited Playboy Feud: Crystal Hefner Accuses Holly Madison, Bridget Marquardt of ‘Sabotage’ (Exclusive)

In her January memoir, Only Say Good Things: Surviving Playboy and Finding Myself, Hugh Hefner’s widow, Crystal Hefner, paints a grim picture of life at the Playboy Mansion, where she spent close to a decade during her nearly five-year marriage to the famed magazine publisher, who died at the age of 91 in 2017.

“Sometimes I imagined myself as Rapunzel, locked in her tower, waiting for someone to rescue her. But no one ever did,” Crystal wrote, describing a fiercely competitive and toxic environment in which she was pitted against other Playmates by a controlling man who dictated her every move, down to what nail polish color she could wear. “I didn’t always know I needed to be rescued,” she continued, “but I knew I was trapped.”

Crystal’s not the first person to liken the famed Playboy Mansion — the 22,000-square-foot L.A. spread known for its opulence and debauchery-filled A-list parties — to a prison. But during a May episode of “Girls Next Level,” the podcast hosted by The Girl Next Door stars Bridget Marquardt and Holly Madison, the women — along with their guest, Hugh’s 34-year-old son, Marston — took aim at Crystal, 38, and her claims.

Marston went so far as to call her a “master manipulator” and gold digger who had Hugh change his will as his mental state declined toward the end of his life.

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The accusations were harsh and have brought new fuel to the long-standing feud between Crystal and Holly, 44, and Bridget, 50, which began in 2009 after Holly and Hugh split and Crystal took over as Hugh’s main girlfriend.

Now, in an exclusive interview for Us Weekly’s cover story, Crystal accuses Holly and Bridget of picking on her and trying to “sabotage” and “pull apart my life,” adding, “If I have a problem with someone, I’ll go to the person and talk to them. Obviously they just want attention.” (She also says she thought she was on good terms with Marston, who was a guest on her now-defunct podcast in November 2023.)

Crystal Hefner Holly Madison Bridget Marquardt Playboy Mansion Us Weekly Cover 2423 NO CHIP
MEGA; WireImage; Getty Images

“They have never been friends,” says a source of Crystal, Holly and Bridget. “Holly automatically hated Crystal,” the insider adds. “It’s like a witch hunt against her.”

“I’m not the new Holly. She’s the old me,” Crystal said during one of her earliest appearances on The Girls Next Door, which ran from 2005 to 2010.

In the years since the show went off the air, both Crystal and Holly have separately stated they believe the hit E! reality series purposely created discord between them. “Their initial feud was over status at the Mansion,” says the source. “Holly wanted to be Mrs. Hefner so badly. She was bitter.”

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In 2021, tension between fellow The Girls Next Door alum Kendra Wilkinson and Holly picked up after Holly talked about the “cutthroat” dynamics between women at the Mansion (in response, Kendra said she’d moved on from the drama).

Crystal put further distance between herself and Holly when she publicly aligned herself with Kendra. “I side with Kendra here,” Crystal said via social media. “Not sure why these women who shared an incredibly uncommon and rare experience… can’t get along? Maybe for the same reasons Holly and Bridget despise me for absolutely no reason.”

Marston said Crystal was obsessed with power and claimed she controlled the guest list of who could come and go from the Mansion (he said she exiled longtime friends of his dad’s).

“You knew to be a little scared sometimes, to not get on her bad side,” Marston noted. The first source says budget cuts at Playboy caused Hugh’s inner circle to shrink. Adds the second source: “Crystal was a true wife of the house, she had a lot of say and she could call the shots.”

Still, Crystal insists Hugh was “king of the castle [and] whoever he wanted to see, that’s who he was around.” Added Crystal, “Sometimes when a woman speaks up, she’s called harsh — especially by people who no longer benefit from her staying quiet — and controlling by people who can no longer control her.”

Hugh-Hefners Romances His Wives and Girlfriends Through the Years Holly Madison Hugh Hefner Bridgette Marquardt Kendra Willkinson

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As for Marston’s comments that Crystal invited strangers to Hugh’s funeral, she says: “I invited his close friends and his office. I’m the one who watched Hugh die; they didn’t. Marston came by, but [his kids] weren’t with him 24-7.” (Hugh passed away at home from sepsis brought on by an E. coli infection.) Adds Crystal: “I was married to him. I was closest to Hef.”

Marston also accused Crystal of having Hugh make changes to his will (so she could receive more money) while he was in a fragile mental state. “[He] doesn’t know where he is, why is he changing his f–king will?” asked Marston. Crystal says Hef had an estate attorney, adding, “Whatever Hef decided to do or change, that’s up to him.”

Crystal also addresses Martson’s claims that his father was “dosed with f–king medication,” explaining that she herself doesn’t take any prescription medication. “I try not to. If I don’t feel well, I’ll take supplements. I am against all of it. So I wanted him to be on as least as possible of any of that type of thing,” she says.

Crystal adds that Hugh was “very sharp,” saying, “I mean, it’s sad to discredit this person that has one of the highest IQs in the world and just created this entire empire. And then saying that he’s not credible, it’s like nothing got past him.”

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As for the characterization that Marston made of Hugh, Crystal expresses sadness. “I feel that obviously he has a lot of pain and hurt still from the relationship or lack thereof with his father,” she says. “And there are some things I think he’s trying to heal or get answers to that he’s realizing may never be answered. So maybe he’s filling in the blanks themselves.”

Crystal tells Us she has no hard feelings against Holly and Bridget or Marston, whom she spoke to after hearing about their podcast. According to Crystal, he “backpedaled” on certain statements and claimed things were taken out of context.

“I still see him as family,” she tells Us, adding that she thinks Marston is dealing with trauma from his less-than-ideal relationship with his dad. “Obviously, he has a lot of pain and hurt.”

She hopes she and Holly and Bridget can sit down and talk someday and eventually even be friends. “I hope we can all heal and get along. I don’t hold grudges,” she adds. “When you’re happy and feeling good, you don’t wish any ill will toward anyone.”

For more on the reignited Playboy feud, watch the exclusive video above — and pick up the latest issue of Us Weekly, on newsstands now.

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