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Playboy auction raises $2.75M

New York -- Playboy founder Hugh Hefner's stretch limousine, along with an exclusive tour of the Playboy mansion and two tickets to an invitation-only New Year's Eve party, fetched $77,675 at auction.

The 1988 Mercedes Benz limo, converted for Hefner in 1989, was among more than 300 items from the Playboy archives that sold Wednesday at the Christie's auction for a total of $2.75 million, according to Playboy Enterprises Inc.

A 1953 photograph of Marilyn Monroe, the magazine's first centerfold, sold for $17,925, and the image of Bo Derek featured on the March 1980 cover went for $11,950.

Pope: Crucifixion film realistic

Vatican City -- Pope John Paul II has seen "The Passion of the Christ," Mel Gibson's biblical epic on the crucifixion of Christ, and said the film "shows how it was," a church official said Thursday.

The official said the film's co-producer told him after the screenings that the pope told his secretary the film was an accurate portrayal of Christ's death.

The pope's apparent approval of "The Passion of the Christ" follows similar praise from several top Vatican officials, who have rejected complaints by some Jewish leaders, who say the film suggests Jews were responsible for Christ's death.

Gibson plans to open the film in the United States on Feb. 25 -- Ash Wednesday on the Roman Catholic calendar.

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