(CN) — Gossip website Gawker filed for bankruptcy Friday after losing an invasion of privacy case brought by pro wrestling icon Hulk Hogan, who was awarded $140 million in damages earlier this year.
Gawker Media and owner Nick Denton are filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy to avoid paying the massive court judgment to the former pro wrestler and billionaire financier Peter Thiel, according to tech industry reports.
In March, Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, scored a $140 million verdict against Gawker for violating his privacy by publishing an excerpt of a sex tape in which he appeared. A Florida judge upheld the award last month, denying Gawker’s request for a new trial.
Friday’s bankruptcy filing means Gawker is entertaining offers to buy the company. A lawyer for the gossip website reportedly told the Florida judge that it couldn’t afford to pay the $140 million judgment.
The bankruptcy papers list creditors Gawker owes. The largest unsecured claim belongs to Hogan. Gawker says that debt is disputed.
Other entities Gawker owes money to include New York City law firm Morrison Cohen LLP, insurance broker Risk Strategies Company, content marketing firm SimpleReach Inc. and Google’s DoubleClick ad service.
Those claims are listed as trade debts and are not disputed by Gawker.
Gawker owes Morrison Cohen more than $115,000 and owes Risk Strategies and SimpleReach about $82,000 each, according to the bankruptcy filing. The gossip site says it owes Google DoubleClick $67,000.
Creditors owed smaller debts include Cloudinary Ltd., Krux Digital, Fastly and the law firm of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP.
According to the Associated Press, Gawker plans to sell itself to publishing company Ziff Davis. The sale will be conducted through bankruptcy court, so other bidders could make an offer.
Denton said in a statement that Ziff Davis’ e-commerce, licensing and video assets would be a good fit for Gawker’s websites, which include its flagship gossip site, tech site Gizmodo, sports site Deadpsin, video-game site Kotaku, celebrity and women-focused site Jezebel, and self-help site Lifehacker.
A spokesman for Thiel said he had no comment on Friday.
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