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Pornhub's elusive co-owner broke a decade-long media silence after his $16 million mansion burned to the ground

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Feras Antoon broke his decade-long media silence to discuss the fire that destroyed his multi-million dollar mansion in April, 2021.JACK TAYLOR/AFP via Getty Images
  • Mindgeek CEO and Pornhub co-owner Feras Antoon gave an interview for the first time in more than a decade.

  • Antoon spoke with Vanity Fair about the fire that destroyed his $16 million mansion in April 2021.

  • He said Pornhub does not allow illegal content, and suspects anti-porn critics could have destroyed his house.

Pornhub's elusive co-owner, in his first interview in more than a decade, said he suspects anti-porn critics may have incited violence that led to his sprawling $16 million mansion burning to the ground last spring.

In 2016, Feras Antoon, the Syrian-Canadian CEO of Pornhub's parent company Mindgeek, purchased two lots of land next to a nature reserve in Montreal for $1.8 million USD, The Daily Mail reported. He spent the subsequent years building his 21-room mansion, complete with a nine-car garage and a 6,000 square foot ballroom, per Vanity Fair.

Days after placing the house on the market for $16 million on April 22, 2021, surveillance footage showed two trespassers on his property before the mansion burned to the ground, Feras told Vanity Fair's Adam Gollner. The fire did not cause any injuries and nearby buildings were not damaged.

Antoon told Vanity Fair he suspects one of Pornhub's many critics was behind the attack.

"Could the extreme religious groups have incited and encouraged someone to do this? Absolutely," he said. "When you use extremist language and QAnon sentiment toward child trafficking, your words are going to attract and mobilize some of the darkest corners of the internet."

The fire happened shortly after Pornhub released its first transparency report which said the firm identified more than 600,000 pieces of content that potentially violated its terms of service.

Earlier, in December 2020, the company had made major changes to the way it moderates content on the platform following a New York Times op-ed written by Nicholas Kristof that alleged the company was hosting videos of nonconsensual sex and sex trafficking victims, including children.

The site told Insider in a statement at the time that "any assertion that we allow CSAM (child sexual abuse material) is irresponsible and flagrantly untrue." It purged all unverified videos from the site, but not before Visa and Mastercard ended their relationships with Pornhub.

"I can't even count how many comments I saw from people saying to burn the company or my house down," Antoon said. "For a while, it was easy to dismiss the tweets as just people on the internet talking. Then my house burned down."

Sex workers have said some changes the company made in 2020 came at their expense. Verified entertainers could no longer get paid through two of the country's largest credit card companies after Visa and Mastercard cut ties with Pornhub, Vice's Samantha Cole reported.

"Any suggestion that we allow or encourage illegal content is completely untrue and defies rational reason, from both a moral and business standpoint," Antoon told Vanity Fair.

Online platforms like Pornhub and OnlyFans were vital for sex workers during the pandemic, when strip clubs shut down. OnlyFans faced backlash last year after booting (and later un-booting) adult entertainers from the platform.

Got a tip? Contact Business Insider reporter Allana Akhtar via email (aakhtar@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@allanaakh). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only.

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