Business on the adult content and pornography site OnlyFans flourished during the pandemic, making its majority owner a new billionaire – and raising new concerns about his past.
IIn October 2018, Florida-based internet pornographic baron Leonid Radvinsky, now 39, bought an estimated 75% of a growing but mostly outrageous business called OnlyFans. At the time, London’s OnlyFans was a newly created video and social networking site that allowed adult performers to make money from the comfort of their own homes. “Content creators” – mostly porn stars – set up accounts through the company’s platform and charge subscribers (which the company calls “fans”) a subscription ranging from $ 4.99 to $ 49.99 per month – and performers keep 80% of what they want to charge.
With all the film production – for adults or otherwise – sheltered during the pandemic and the millions of lonely people left stuck at home, OnlyFans ’business flourished. In the year to November 2020, OnlyFans recorded revenue of $ 400 million, up 540% from the previous year, 80% of which came from U.S. customers. The number of creators has nearly quadrupled to 1.6 million, including major stars like Cardi B, DJ Khaled, Fat Joe and Rebecca Minkoff. The total number of paying fans climbed by more than 500% to 82 million. Profit after tax rose to 60 million from 6.6 million. Forbes estimates that Radvinsky’s stake in Fenix International – the parent company of OnlyFans – makes him a new billionaire, worth about $ 1.8 billion.
Beyond these interesting finances, published in the UK, little is known about Radvinsky, who did not respond to repeated requests for comment. A OnlyFans spokesman also declined to comment.
We know that OnlyFans was founded in 2016 by British entrepreneur Timothy Stokely, now 37, along with his retired father, banker Guy Stokely, and brother Thomas. In British applications, Radvinsky and Guy Stokely are listed as the company’s sole directors. Timothy, Thomas and Guy Stokely declined to comment on this story.
What little is known about Radvinski is not flattering. Twenty years ago, before internet pornography was widely available for free, he ran a small empire of websites advertising access to “illegal” and “hacked” passwords for porn sites, including those advertised as containing underage performers. In the late 1990s, such link websites were common and were used to market not only pornography but also online gambling and other gray market activities.
But Radwinski was particularly aggressive. Browsing the archive of Wayback Machine websites, Forbes discovered 11 such sites, which were created in the late 1990s and early 2000s by Radvinsky and his Glenview, an Illinois-based company, Cybertania. They included Password Universe, which in 2000 released a link that directs web users to a site that is said to offer pedophiles more than 10,000 “illegal pre-teen passwords”. In 1999, a website called Working Passes had a link to “hottest underdeveloped hardcore” featuring 16-year-olds. Also in 2000, another website, Ultra Passwords, promised a link containing “the best illegal teen passwords” and “the most popular bestial website on the web”. The legal age for porn actors in the U.S. is 18, while bestiality (the act of having sex with an animal) is illegal in most U.S. states. Wayback Machine removed Radvinsky ‘s old website from its archives after talking to Forbes.)
But there is no evidence that any of Radvinsky’s pages is really related to child pornography or bestiality. Instead, websites seem to be the way Radvinsky could make money by charging his partners (actual porn sites) every click. Forbes, which has been banned from accessing such images, has asked the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), a specialist group that deals with the removal of such content on the web, to view archived websites that contain links that promote underage pornography. According to the IWF, none are associated with illegal material.
It was a nasty business, but it was profitable. One of Radvinsky’s positions generated $ 5,000 a day in 2002, or $ 1.8 million a year.
Instead, the links usually went to similar sites that offer multiple links to free porn passwords or other adult content. In 2002, a year before Radvinsky graduated from Northwestern University, where he graduated in economics, his company Cybertania sued the domain name registrar and Internet backbone provider Verisign, claiming that Verisign had transferred one of its websites to someone else. In that lawsuit, Radvinsky’s company said it was partnering with the same sites it claimed to have “hacked” applications: “Cybertania has earned a hyperlink for every connection or password used by the appropriate owner and operator of that referral website.” wrote in Cybertania’s attorneys. In another lawsuit against Radvinsky, the plaintiff said Ultra Passwords “represents a deceptive picture of providing ‘hacked’ (stolen) passwords for free services from other pornographic sites, but which is actually a lucrative affiliate site to join.”
It was a nasty business, but it was profitable. In Cybertania’s lawsuit against Verisign, Radvinsky’s company said its Ultra Passwords site generates $ 5,000 a day in 2002, or $ 1.8 million a year.
Radvinsky remained elusive for nearly 20 years between starting the business of his sexual relationship farms and buying 75% of OnlyFans. In the early 2000s, he created a handful of websites linking famous sex tapes and MyFreeCams, a site that is claimed to be the first place in the world through pornographic services. He also occasionally appeared in lawsuits. In 2003 and 2004, Amazon and Microsoft sued Radvinsky in U.S. District Court in Seattle over alleged unsolicited campaigns using the Amazon name and Microsoft email tools to offer spam recipients “free government money” or links to the web. adult site. Radvinsky denied all allegations. The cases were settled out of court in 2005, and Radvinsky and his company were barred from using Amazon’s spam name or any Microsoft email tool.. His deal with Cybertania was sued in 2005 by model Sheila Lussier for using her (dressed) image on one of his porn sites, which the company fought against. Lussier says she settled with an undisclosed amount.
OnlyFans encountered its own problems with underage performers. Because the site doesn’t independently check the age of its sex workers, it’s pretty easy for people to lie. In late May, a BBC investigation revealed that a 14-year-old girl had managed to register an account as a performer at OnlyFans using her grandmother’s passport. A senior police officer told the BBC that OnlyFans “[N]not doing enough to establish safeguards that prevent children from taking advantage of the opportunity to make money, but also for children to take advantage of it. In response, OnlyFans issued a statement saying it was using “state-of-the-art technology” and “monitoring people” to prevent sharing under-18s on the platform, and took the issue “very seriously.”
Signy Arnason, assistant executive director of the Canadian Center for Child Protection, says her group often receives notifications that OnlyFans models are potentially minors. She describes OnlyFans ’efforts to protect underage performers as“ minimal ”. OnlyFans has a “moral and ethical responsibility to be better here,” she adds.