Rolling Stone magazine will soon have new ownership. The iconic magazine co-founded by then-21-year-old Jann Wenner in 1967 is set to leave his hands for the first time in its history, according to the New York Times. Singapore-based BandLab Technologies purchased 49 percent of Rolling Stone last year, but Wenner’s controlling stake in the magazine with Wenner Media is now available for a buyer with deep pockets.
While Jann Wenner and his son 27-year-old son Gus have both expressed a desire to stay on at the magazine after it is sold, they acknowledge the new owner may have different plans. At age 71, Wenner admitted “it’s time for young people to run” the magazine. Jann Wenner told the Times that he hopes the magazine’s buyer is someone who both respects Rolling Stone and also has “lots of money.”
Of course, Rolling Stone isn’t the magazine it was 50 years ago, and neither is the print magazine industry. The Wenners recently sold their other two magazines, Us Weekly and Men’s Journal, to American Media, publisher of the National Enquirer and other tabloids. The Times described Wenner’s signature magazine as a onetime “counterculture bible,” but Rolling Stone‘s glory days may have come and gone.
In its heyday, Rolling Stone was known for its core music coverage and was considered a pop culture mainstay, but controversial stories and sloppy journalism later tarnished its reputation. Not only did the magazine’s cover photo glamorization of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev hurt the magazine, but a since-discredited 2014 story about a gang rape at the University of Virginia permanently damaged the magazine’s journalistic reputation and resulted in three libel lawsuits, according to Fox News.
Fifty years ago, Jann Wenner invested $7,500 to start Rolling Stone and he later boasted her turned down a $500 million offer for the once prestigious magazine. Now, an inside source told the New York Post that magazine giants Hearst, Time Inc., and Conde Nast aren’t interested in purchasing Rolling Stone, and, reportedly, neither is American Media.
News of the Rolling Stone sale comes just two months ahead of the magazine’s 50th anniversary and a few weeks before the release of an unflattering Jann Wenner biography. The book, titled Sticky Fingers and due out Oct. 24, chronicles the publishing magnate’s 50 years at the helm of Rolling Stone. While the book was originally done with the full cooperation of Wenner, it’s not being billed as an “as told to” memoir but instead a “definitive biography” of Jann’s 50 years at Rolling Stone.
Sources who read advance copies of Sticky Fingers tell the Post that the book details Wenner’s “cocaine-fueled editing sessions” and his reportedly poor treatment of the magazine’s editors while also addressing the secret bisexuality he came to terms with publicly less than 20 years ago. After Jann Wenner read an advance copy of the book, he withdrew an invitation for its author, Joe Hagan, to appear with him at an event at 92nd Street Y in New York City on Nov. 1.
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