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From the file

#PornPlanet | Online pornography is watched by billions of people. But how much do we actually know about the porn industry – and the protections in place to prevent abuse?

Hunt for the porn king: the secretive owner of Pornhub revealed

Friday 21 May 2021

As dozens of women accuse the world’s largest porn company of profiting from their abuse, we trace its owner to his London mansion


Hunt for the porn king – trailer

Tap here to listen

For years, he was a ghost. 

He’s the owner of the world’s biggest porn company – making millions of dollars a year in profit from sites like Pornhub. 

But until recently, no-one even knew he existed. 

We wanted to change that. 

On Monday, Tortoise Studios will release Hunt for the Porn King – a special episode of our Slow Newscast revealing how we tracked down the world’s biggest pornographer.

Bernd Bergmair is the secretive majority owner of MindGeek, the huge Canadian porn conglomerate that owns sites like Pornhub, the tenth most popular website in the world. 

Pornhub gets more visits than Netflix or Amazon, and MindGeek posts revenues of $450 million a year. Even if it weren’t a controversial company, it would be weird not to know who owns such a huge company. 

But MindGeek is controversial. Pornhub has been accused of being saturated with abusive content, from rape videos to child abuse. This week 132 alleged victims demanded an FBI investigation into MindGeek for “violating federal sex trafficking and child protection laws”. 

Now up to 50 women are preparing to sue MindGeek – alleging that it is a criminal enterprise. And we’ve learnt that one of the defendants will be Bernd Bergmair. 

So we wanted to find Bergmair to ask him about the serious allegations against MindGeek – allegations he’s never addressed. 

But we didn’t have much to go on. Until recently his name yielded only three search results on Google. He appears in no corporate documents and has no public social media profile. The only known photograph of him was a 20-year-old blurry picture from a university alumni magazine. 

Our search spanned New York, China, Hong Kong and Austria. But eventually we found the porn tycoon much closer to home. Bergmair was living in a mansion on one of London’s richest streets. 

And when we visited him, we got to ask him questions that Pornhub’s victims have waited years to have answered.

To hear the full story of how we found Bernd Bergmair – listen to our special podcast episode, Hunt for the Porn King, on Tortoisemedia.com on Monday, or subscribe to the Slow Newscast wherever you get your podcasts. 

It’s a story about the dark side of online porn – and who profits. 

But it’s also just the beginning, just the doorstep of something bigger. It’s about money and clicks being prioritised over safety. It’s about anonymous investors who put hundreds of millions of dollars into companies with little or no scrutiny.

Neither Bergmair nor MindGeek responded to requests for comment despite repeated attempts to get through to them. MindGeek executives have previously denied wrongdoing. They told Canadian MPs in February that they were committed to doing more to safeguard users and performers and they use cutting edge technology and human moderation to prevent abusive content from appearing on their sites. In the case of some of the victims, MindGeek said it tried to contact them for additional information but didn’t receive anything in return.  

Additional reporting by Kim Darrah and Dossier

Photographs for Tortoise by Tom Pilston

Visit the Tortoise app on Monday 24 May to listen to the full investigation.


If you’re not yet a Tortoise member and want exclusive access, do sign up. If you use my code ALEXI50, you can join from less than £1 a week.

Alexi Mostrous, Investigations Editor

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Hunt for the porn king

Hunt for the porn king

As dozens of women accuse the world’s largest porn company of profiting from their abuse, listen to the full story of how we traced its secretive owner to his London mansion

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