Gawker.com sells to Bustle co-founder Goldberg in bankruptcy court

Gawker.com sells to Bustle co-founder Goldberg in bankruptcy court
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Gawker.com was purchased by Bustle and Elite Daily co-founder and CEO Bryan Goldberg on Thursday in an auction held in bankruptcy court, according to a Thursday report.

As first reported in TheWrap.com, the auction was held at New York-based law firm Ropes & Gray. Terms of the purchase were not disclosed, but a source in the report said opening bids started at $1.13 million.

Gawker.com was the popular and provocative flagship site of Gawker media until declaring bankruptcy in June 2016. The company lost a multimillion-dollar lawsuit to ex-pro wrestler Terry Bollea, known as Hulk Hogan, after publishing a leaked sex tape of him and Heather Clem, the wife of a former friend.

After court proceedings lasting almost four years, a Florida judge ruled Gawker pay Bollea $140 million in March 2016, which was eventually settled down to $31 million. Gawker Media filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy three months later.

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Several potential buyers were since rumored to be making a play for Gawker, including venture capitalist Peter Thiel.

Thiel was outed as gay by Gawker in 2007. As revenge or what he called "specific deterrence," he helped secretly fund Bollea's lawsuit against the publication years five years later.

Other Gawker Media properties, including heavily trafficked Deadspin, Gizmodo and Jezebel, among others, were sold to Univision Communications in August 2016 for $135 million.

Univision CEO Vince Sandusky this week announced it would sell those sites, along with the satirical news website The Onion, citing a need to enhance the core mission of serving Hispanic viewers in the U.S.

“While they have had success with us, there is no doubt in my mind that they can thrive even more as part of a company whose focus aligns better with theirs,” Sandusky said. “Likewise, it is important for Univision to exit a business which does not enhance our core mission, and instead refocus on our strengths.”

Goldberg, 35, founded Bleacher Report in 2007. The California native sold the site in 2012 to Turner Broadcasting for $175 million.

The Hill has reached out to Goldberg for comment.