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Online publisher Gawker Media files for bankruptcy

Gawker has sold its seven brands after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The controversial media organization said the move followed a 'coordinated barrage of lawsuits' aimed at destroying it.

Online publisher Gawker media filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Friday and announced plans to sell itself at auction.

The insolvency news was followed by an announcement that Gawker had agreed to sell its seven brands to Ziff Davis publishing group.

Seeking protection of its remaining assets under US bankruptcy code Chapter 11, Gawker said the brands would be sold "free and clear of legal liabilities and maximize value for all stakeholders."

Gawker said in a statement the decision to put its properties up for sale was the result of " a coordinated barrage of lawsuits intended to put the company out of business and deter its writers from offering critical coverage."

Executives at Gawker Media told employees on Friday that the "company has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy due to Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel’s third-party funding of several lawsuits against the company."

Peter Thiel

Peter Thiel

Thiel's secret role has raised concern over the possibility that more wealthy individuals might cow publications by covertly funding lawsuits against them.

Economic damage

In March, a jury awarded $60 million (53.3 million euros) to former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan for emotional distress and $55 million for economic damages, after Gawker published in 2012 a video clip featuring Hogan having sex with the wife of his then-best friend, the radio shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge Clem.

The jury awarded a further $25 million in punitive damages against Gawker Media founder Nick Denton.

"We have every intention to continue to pursue our judgment against Gawker and to hold them accountable for violating Mr. Bollea's privacy whether it be in the bankruptcy court or any other court," David Houston, an attorney for Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, said in a statement on Friday.

The 14-year-old Gawker group had 44.4 million unique visitors in April across its seven websites, which include Deadspin, Lifehacker, Gizmodo, Jalopnik and Jezebel, according to data provider comScore Inc.

es/jm (AP, AFP)

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