Porn King's Mansion Burned, and the Suspect List Is Long

'Vanity Fair' digs into the many enemies of Pornhub co-owner Feras Antoon
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 30, 2022 5:05 PM CST
After Arson at Porn King's Mansion, Suspect List Is Long
Stock photo.   (Getty/Christian Sturzenegger)

(Newser) – The arson had all the markings of a professional job. In April 2021, somebody torched the nearly finished mansion being built in Montreal for Feras Antoon, a co-owner of Pornhub. As Adam Gollner writes at Vanity Fair, the massive blaze decimated the "Pornhub Palace" but left neighboring places barely touched. Two suspects were seen on surveillance video, but months later, the crime remains unsolved. The list of theories, however, is long. Antoon dismisses speculation he staged it himself to collect insurance. An enemy, then? Take your pick. Maybe an angry father of an underage girl whose video showed up on the site. Maybe someone exacting revenge over a revenge-porn video. The mansion was going up in "Mafia Row," so maybe it was one of the neighbors with links to organized crime? Or perhaps it was linked to the anti-porn movement on the "fundamentalist fringe?"

Gollner digs into all of the above in tracing Pornhub's beginnings—the origin story goes back about 20 years to Montreal's Concordia University—and its many controversies en route to becoming one of the 10 most-viewed websites in the world. Perhaps the most notable controversy came via former New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who accused the site (and parent company MindGeek) of profiting from "child rapes." (The site has since stopped allowing unverified users to post content, a big source of its trouble.) Much of the anti-Pornhub enmity comes from the group Traffickinghub, described by Gollner "as an offshoot of the evangelical Christian organization Exodus Cry, which has well-documented anti-LGBTQ+ and antiabortion origins." These "new crusaders aim to outlaw the commercial sex industry altogether," writes Gollner. Read the full story. (Or check out more Longform stories.)

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