Image: dailymail.co.uk

Hugh Hefner’s most prized asset – his ownership of Playboy – could be in flux for a full year, according to TMZ.

Hefner sold his company, Playboy Enterprises, back in March 2011, but retained a 35 per cent minority ownership in the company. Playboy sources told TMZ that there were strings attached to Hef’s shares in the company … strings that affect his children.

TMZ were told that under the deal, Playboy Enterprises has one year from the time of Hef’s death to buy back his shares, assuming his estate and Playboy can reach an agreement. If they can’t, after one year Hef’s 35 per cent interest is up for grabs – the highest bidder gets it.

Proceeds from the sale will go to Hefner’s kids. Playboy insiders say Hef’s shares should fetch around $45 million.

The sources further revealed that it’s likely Playboy Enterprises will make the deal sometime in the next year, because the shares aren’t that attractive to an outsider, who would not have majority control nor would they have the power and influence wielded by Hef.

Though $45 million is a lot of money, you’d think the guy who founded a globally iconic brand would reap a bigger payday.