Gawker Media files for bankruptcy, to go up for sale

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Gawker files for bankruptcy

(Reuters) - Gawker Media LLC, the online publisher ordered by a U.S. judge to pay $140 million to former wrestler Hulk Hogan over the publication of a sex tape, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Friday and is planning to put itself up for sale.

The move will intensify public debate in the United States over the role of big money in media lawsuits. Billionaire investor Peter Thiel, an early backer of Facebook and a co-founder of PayPal had bankrolled Hogan's lawsuit.

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Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, is listed as the largest creditor in Gawker's bankruptcy filing.

Media company Ziff Davis LLC has entered into an agreement to buy Gawker in a bankruptcy auction for a little less than $100 million, according to a people familiar with the matter.

In the filing, Gawker said its assets are estimated to be worth $50 million to $100 million, whereas its liabilities are estimated to be between $100 million and $500 million.

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Gawker Media files for bankruptcy, to go up for sale
Hulk Hogan sits in court before the start of his trial Thursday, March 17, 2016, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, and his attorneys are suing Gawker Media for $100 million, saying his privacy was violated, and he suffered emotional distress after Gawker posted a sex tape of Hogan and his then-best friend's wife. (Dirk Shadd/The Tampa Bay Times via AP, Pool)
Former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, left, along with attorney Seema Ghatnekar prepare to take a break just after the jury was handed Hogan's case against Gawker Media for deliberations on Friday, March 18, 2016, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, is suing Gawker for $100 million for posting a video of him having sex with his former best friend's wife. Hogan contends the 2012 post violated his privacy. (Boyzell Hosey/The Tampa Bay Times via AP, Pool)
Gawker attorney Michael Sullivan addresses the jury during his closing statements in the trial of former professional wrester Hulk Hogan's lawsuit against Gawker media, in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, March 18, 2016. Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, is suing Gawker for $100 million for posting a video of him having sex with his former best friend's wife. Hogan contends the 2012 post violated his privacy. (Boyzell Hosey/The Tampa Bay Times via AP, Pool)
Hulk Hogan talks with his attorneys before the start of his trial Thursday, March 17, 2016, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, and his attorneys are suing Gawker Media for $100 million, saying his privacy was violated, and he suffered emotional distress after Gawker posted a sex tape of Hogan and his then-best friend's wife. (Dirk Shadd/The Tampa Bay Times via AP, Pool)
Judge Pamela A. M. Campbell raises her hand to swear in the jury during the Hulk Hogan's trial Thursday, March 17, 2016, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, and his attorneys are suing Gawker Media for $100 million, saying his privacy was violated, and he suffered emotional distress after Gawker posted a sex tape of Hogan and his then-best friend's wife. (Dirk Shadd/The Tampa Bay Times via AP, Pool)
Hulk Hogan talks with his attorneys before his trial Thursday, March 17, 2016, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, and his attorneys are suing Gawker Media for $100 million, saying his privacy was violated, and he suffered emotional distress after Gawker posted a sex tape of Hogan and his then-best friend's wife. (Dirk Shadd/The Tampa Bay Times via AP, Pool) MANDATORY CREDIT
Hulk Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, testifies in court on Tuesday, March 8, 2016, during his trial against Gawker Media, in St Petersburg, Fla. Hogan and his attorneys are suing Gawker for $100 million, saying that his privacy was violated, and he suffered emotional distress after Gawker posted a sex tape filmed of Hogan and his then-best friendâs wife. (John Pendygraft/Tampa Bay Times via AP, Pool) MANDATORY NY POST OUT
Former Gawker employee A.J. Daulerio, right, testifies at the Pinellas County Courthouse in St. Petersburg, Fla., Monday, March 14, 2016. Hulk Hogan is suing Gawker Media for $100 million for posting an edited video showing him having sex with his then-best friend's wife. Lawyers for Gawker Media began presenting their case on Monday. (Stephen Yang/New York Post via AP, Pool)
Gawker Media founder Nick Denton, left, and reporter A.J. Daulerio, right, sit inside a Pinellas County courtroom, Monday, March 14, 2016, in St Petersburg, Fla. Hulk Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, is suing Gawker Media for the publication of a sex tape involving the former wrestler. Lawyers for Gawker Media began presenting their client's case on Monday. (Stephen Yang/New York Post via AP, Pool)
University of Florida journalism professor Mike Foley testifies during Hulk Hogan's trial against Gawker Media Wednesday, March 9, 2016, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, and his attorneys are suing Gawker for $100 million, saying his privacy was violated, and he suffered emotional distress after Gawker posted a sex tape of Hogan and his then-best friend's wife. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius, Pool) MANDATORY NY POST OUT
Hulk Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, waits in the courtroom during a break Wednesday, March 9. 2016, in his trial against Gawker Media in St. Petersburg, Fla. Hogan and his attorneys are suing Gawker for $100 million, saying his privacy was violated, and he suffered emotional distress after Gawker posted a sex tape of Hogan and his then-best friend's wife. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius, Pool) MANDATORY NY POST OUT
Gawker Media reporter A.J. Daulerio attends Hulk Hogan's trial against Gawker Wednesday, March 9, 2016, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, and his attorneys are suing Gawker for $100 million, saying his privacy was violated, and he suffered emotional distress after Gawker posted a sex tape of Hogan and his then-best friend's wife. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius, Pool) MANDATORY NY POST OUT
Gawker Media founder Nick Denton attends Hulk Hogan's trial against Gawker Wednesday, March 9, 2016, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, and his attorneys are suing Gawker for $100 million, saying his privacy was violated, and he suffered emotional distress after Gawker posted a sex tape of Hogan and his then-best friend's wife. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius, Pool) MANDATORY NY POST OUT
Hulk Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, leaves the courtroom during a break Wednesday, March 9. 2016, in his trial against Gawker Media in St. Petersburg, Fla. Hogan and his attorneys are suing Gawker for $100 million, saying his privacy was violated, and he suffered emotional distress after Gawker posted a sex tape of Hogan and his then-best friend's wife. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius, Pool) MANDATORY NEW YORK POST OUT
Pinellas County Judge Pamella Campbell, second right, meets with attorneys at the bench Wednesday, March 9. 2016, during Hulk Hogan's lawsuit trial against Gawker Media in St. Petersburg, Fla. Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, and his attorneys are suing Gawker for $100 million, saying his privacy was violated, and he suffered emotional distress after Gawker posted a sex tape of Hogan and his then-best friend's wife. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius, Pool) MANDATORY NEW YORK POST OUT
Gawker Media's Nick Denton, left, and A.J. Daulerio, right, listens to testimony during Hulk Hogan's lawsuit trial against Gawker Wednesday, March 9, 2016, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, and his attorneys are suing Gawker for $100 million, saying his privacy was violated, and he suffered emotional distress after Gawker posted a sex tape of Hogan and his then-best friend's wife. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius, Pool) MANDATORY NEW YORK POST OUT
Hulk Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, takes a moment as attorneys talk to the judge in court on Tuesday, March 8, 2016, during his trial against Gawker Media, in St Petersburg, Fl. Hogan and his attorneys are suing Gawker for $100 million, saying that his privacy was violated, and he suffered emotional distress after Gawker posted one minute and forty one seconds of a sex tape filmed of Hogan and his then-best friendâs wife. (John Pendygraft/Tampa Bay Times via AP, Pool) MANDATORY NY POST OUT
David Houston, an attorney for Hulk Hogan, testifies Wednesday, March 9, 2016, in Hogan's trial against Gawker Media in St. Petersburg, Fla. Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, and his attorneys are suing Gawker for $100 million, saying his privacy was violated, and he suffered emotional distress after Gawker posted a sex tape of Hogan and his then-best friend's wife. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius, Pool) MANDATORY NEW YORK POST OUT
FILE -In this Tuesday, March 1, 2016 file photo, Terry Bollea, known as professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, watches potential jurors at the Pinellas County Courthouse, in St. Petersburg, Fla., as jury selection began in his case vs. Gawker Media. Opening statements are scheduled to begin Monday, March 7, 2016, in the civil trial between pro wrestler Hulk Hogan and a popular news website. (Scott Keeler/The Tampa Bay Times via AP, Pool, File)
Judge Pamela Campbell listens during a sidebar as Hulk Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, testifies in court on Tuesday, March 8, 2016 during Hogan's trial against Gawker Media, in St Petersburg, Fla. Hogan and his attorneys are suing Gawker for $100 million, saying that his privacy was violated, and he suffered emotional distress after Gawker posted a sex tape filmed of Hogan and his then-best friendâs wife. (John Pendygraft/Tampa Bay Times via AP, Pool) MANDATORY NY POST OUT
ST PETERSBURG, FL - MARCH 07: Terry Bollea, aka Hulk Hogan, testifies in his case against the website Gawker at the Pinellas County Courthouse March 7, 2016 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Bollea is taking legal action against Gawker in a USD 100 million lawsuit for releasing a video of him having sex with his best friends wife. (Photo by Boyzell Hosey-Pool/Getty Images)
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(Reporting By Sudarshan Varadhan in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva)

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