Thiel is demanding that he be given the chance to bid on Gawker.com,
the gossip and news website he helped drive out of business and
which is now being shopped in bankruptcy.
is demanding that he be given the chance to bid on Gawker.com, the
gossip and news website he helped drive out of business and which
is now being shopped in bankruptcy.
representing Mr. Thiel said in papers filed Wednesday in the U.S.
Bankruptcy Court in New York that the billionaire venture
capitalist is “the most able and logical purchaser” of Gawker.com
but that, so far, his overtures have been rebuffed by the
administrator overseeing the sale process.
if Mr. Thiel is allowed to bid on a level playing field, value
will be maximized; if not, it won’t,” lawyers for Mr. Thiel said.
The filing says Will Holden, a managing director at Dacarba LLC,
the firm overseeing the sale process, should be required to afford
Mr. Thiel “a fair opportunity to submit a competitive bid.”
filings were first reported by Buzzfeed News.
interest in the website, which has been dormant since August 2016,
adds a new twist to the continuing legal wrangling between him and
publisher of the blog, Gawker Media LLC. Mr. Thiel secretly
financed Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against the publisher, the ruling on
which by a jury forced the Gawker Media and its founder Nick
Denton into chapter 11 last year and, ultimately, out of business.
also raises a new question about the ultimate fate of Gawker.com
and its archive. The Wall Street Journal reported in October that
the sale process had put Gawker’s articles at risk of being
deleted. A new owner of Gawker.com would be free to remove old
articles from the website. Assets for sale include the Gawker
domain, social media accounts and nearly 200,000 published
at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Mr. Thiel said
Gawker was a “singularly sociopathic bully” that ruined people’s
lives. Gawker published a story in 2007 that identified Mr. Thiel
as gay, which he has said violated his privacy. The lawsuit by
Terry Bollea, Hogan’s real name, concerned publication of excerpts
of the wrestler’s sex tape on Gawker.com.
comes as lawyers representing Gawker Media continue to seek
insight into Mr. Thiel’s relationship with Mr. Bollea’s lawyer,
Charles J. Harder. In June, a judge granted Gawker Media
permission to seek discovery on the issue. Mr. Holden told the
Journal earlier this month that he would consider putting any
potential legal claims the publisher may hold against Mr. Thiel up
In a series
of emails to Gawker’s lawyer, Mr. Thiel’s legal team said the
billionaire financier wanted to buy the website and its potential
legal claims, or “causes of action” in legalese.
is prepared to make an offer to acquire all remaining Gawker
assets, including Retained Causes of Action as defined in the
Plan, but excluding all cash held for distribution under the
Plan,” Mr. Thiel’s lawyers wrote in an email to Gregg Galardi, a
Ropes & Gray LLP lawyer representing Gawker Media. “Mr. Thiel
is highly confident that he can provide more value for the
remaining assets than any other bidder in a fair and competitive
sale process and, therefore, an expeditious path to the closure of
the Gawker bankruptcy cases. Mr. Thiel is prepared to participate
immediately and in good faith in such a process. The threatened
estate claims against Mr. Thiel are spurious. If necessary, he
will litigate them to conclusion, which would be expensive and
responded that Mr. Thiel was free to make an offer for gawker.com,
but that given their differing opinions on the value of any
potential legal claims against Mr. Thiel, he doubted the two sides
could agree on a price.
that possibility a while back in connection with a settlement of
claims and were told Mr. Thiel had no interest because he thought
the claims had no value,” Mr. Galardi wrote to Mr. Thiel’s
lawyers. “Since you describe the claims as ‘spurious,’ that view
has apparently not changed. So, while Mr. Thiel is free to make a
proposal, we doubt we can agree on a price.”
Wednesday, Mr. Thiel’s lawyers requested that the judge vacate his
prior order granting discovery in light of the sale process.
“Because the plan administrator’s intentions regarding the claims
have changed, cause no longer exists and the discovery is moot,”
Mr. Thiel’s lawyers said.
told the Journal that while Gawker Media’s advisers offered Mr.
Thiel a chance to submit a bid, they never received one.
Generally, Mr. Holden said, that the “buy it now price” for
Gawker.com is $36 million because, he said, the most a single site
had ever sold for, VacationRentals.com, $35 million.
Mr. Holden said Gawker Media’s advisers were concerned that
engaging with Mr. Thiel and negotiating a nondisclosure agreement
with him would be time consuming and costly. There was also
concern that bidding on Gawker Media’s remaining assets would be
chilled if people became aware that Mr. Thiel was bidding because
of his significant financial resources, Mr. Holden said.
also said Gawker Media decided to market the potential claims
against Mr. Thiel after a conversation with his lawyers.
idea of selling the claims was something we picked up on when
Thiel’s lawyers called to say they wanted to participate in the
bidding,” Mr. Holden said. The fact that they were looking into
potential claims against Mr. Thiel was another concern, he said.
lawyers didn’t immediately respond to messages late Wednesday.
Messrs. Harder and Bollea have also objected to discovery. Mr.
Bollea is entitled to 45% of the proceeds from a sale of Gawker,
according to the $31 million settlement that ended the wrestler’s
Gawker writers have previously told the Journal that the website’s
archive includes important articles and should be preserved.
Univision Communications Inc. last year bought Gawker’s sister
sites, among them Jezebel, Deadspin and Gizmodo, out of bankruptcy
for $135 million. It passed, however, on purchasing Gawker.
to Jonathan Randles at