NEW YORK (Reuters) – Venture capitalist Peter Thiel has made an offer for Gawker, hoping to overcome legal hurdles and rival bidders for the online news site the billionaire helped shutter by funding litigation against it, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.
Gawker, which has been inactive for more than a year, is conducting an auction of its remaining assets, including its domain names and nearly 200,000 archived articles. Most of its assets, including its sister pages Deadspin, a sports site, and Jezebel, a feminist blog, were bought in 2016 for $135 million by media company Univision Holdings Inc (UVN.N).
Thiel has not said why he wants Gawker, though the potential acquisition would let him take down stories regarding his personal life that are still available on the website, and remove the scope for further litigation between him and Gawker. Thiel, who is Facebook Inc’s (FB.O) first major investor and a co-founder of payment service PayPal Inc (PYPL.O), did not respond to a request for comment.
Gawker’s bankruptcy plan administrator Will Holden, of consulting firm Dacarba LLC, and the website’s bankruptcy attorney Gregg Galardi, of law firm Ropes & Gray LLP, have tried to block Thiel’s bid, according to court papers.
Galardi in late November asked a U.S. bankruptcy court judge to deny Thiel’s request to bid, according to court papers. He also argued Thiel is “not a ‘proper’ purchaser” because he could end up as the target of litigation, according to court papers.
Thiel funded former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker after the site published a sex tape featuring Hogan. The former wrestler, whose real name is Terry Bollea, won a $140 million judgment against the site, and later settled for $31 million.
Gawker in 2007 published a story…