50 shades for sale: Pennsylvania home listing contains surprise in basement

Luke O'Neil
‘House is being sold fully furnished,’ according to an online listing. Photograph: Moussa81/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Like many engrossing dramas, the saga of the extremely, let’s say, peculiar Pennsylvania real estate listing begins innocuously enough.

“50 shades of Maple Glen” opens on an establishing shot of a large, pleasant brick home.

Scroll through the pictures and we learn the five-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath home just north of Philadelphia off the Pennsylvania Turnpike has a spacious backyard with a gazebo, and a fire pit, a beautiful kitchen with “stainless steel appliances, tumbled marble backsplash and large granite island and granite countertops”. Hardwood floors and brick fireplaces and a billiards table and fitness room add to the appeal.

But like many unassuming suburban homes, this one holds a dark secret whose true nature is withheld until the final act.

The house, on the market for $750,000, is currently rented out, the listing explains, for $750 a night on weekdays and $2,000 a night at weekends – “for private parties or entertainment”.

Hm. What’s going on here?

Then, 31 pictures in to the 48-image real estate slideshow, it starts to become clear.

There’s a shot of a curious stained-wood structure in the basement, which appears to be some sort of recreational equipment. These people have another gym … in the bedroom? Maybe you scrolled past quickly and on to the next photo, which opens up into a more expansive view of the bearskin rugs. And what’s that in the corner? Wait, is that a suit of armor?

Then it’s back upstairs into the lovely dining room. But the nagging suspicion that you saw something down in the basement starts to come back. Then it hits you. Oh. Oh. That’s what they meant by “50 Shades …”

Toward the end of the slideshow things start to come into focus. That’s not a piece of gym equipment: it’s a scaffold with all manner of dangling restraints and chains.

Nearby there’s a large X-like crucifix, with what appear to be shackles for the hands and feet.

On the wall are hung whips and chains, and around the corner there’s a … what is that? A pommel horse? What do you do on that? There appear to stocks attached to a bed.

And is that a star-shaped rack?

OK, so that’s what they mean by renting it out for entertainment. No wonder it costs so much. The cleaning fees must really add up.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. People in the suburbs can and should do whatever they want. And it does seem like a lovely home, all things considered. It’s near the “award-winning Upper Dublin school district”, the listing concludes. “House is being sold furnished.”

Shortly after word of the unusual sale spread, the property website Redfin scrubbed the pertinent photographs from the listing. It also edited a sentence that read “full finished walk-out basement with Bilco doors, includes a gym or fifth bedroom and also is a private adult sexual oasis”.

Luckily, the property was also listed in all its full glory on rival property site Zillow (at least it still was at the time of publication).