The 82-year-old said his failed efforts to have a baby with Madison, 28, contributed to the split.

Despite the 54-year age gap, Hefner said he had "planned to spend the rest of my life with Holly", adding that he was "down in the dumps" about the break-up: "I was road kill a couple of weeks ago."

He explained: "We tried to have a baby earlier this year and it didn't work out. She became very depressed."

Hefner saw the writing on the wall last month when he admitted that their relationship was going through a period of "transition", explaining: "I don't think anything lasts forever. I love her very much but, you know, she wants very much to get married and have children. That isn't very much on the cards for me. So there has to be a certain reality there."

However, he does not have to contemplate singledom just yet. He still has two other live-in girlfriends, Kendra Wilkinson, 23, and Bridget Marquadt, 35, installed at the Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills. Hefner has scaled down his coterie - a few years ago the mansion was home to no less than seven Playmates.

And there is no shortage of women queing up to replace Madison.

The multi-millionaire said: "There's been moments that I've been down in the dumps about all this, and Mary [Hefner's personal assistant] told me to cheer up and pointed out that there are girls lined up outside the front gate. At my age, that's hard to believe, but it seems to be true.

"It's a big house and I'm not going to live alone. I'm definitely not going to live alone."