According to The Wall Street Journal, the auction for the site was held at the New York offices of the firm Ropes & Gray LLP, and Goldberg’s $1.13 million “offer had led the bidding for the blog.” The publication says a “bankruptcy judge is scheduled to approve a sale of Gawker on Tuesday.”
Gawker.com shut down after 14 years of operation in 2016 after getting sued by Terry Bollea, aka Hulk Hogan, for publishing a sex tape he was featured in. Bollea was bankrolled by billionaire Peter Thiel, who held a nearly decadelong grudge against the gossip site after it reported that he is gay. Gawker argued in the suit that it was protected under the First Amendment, but a Florida jury sided with Bollea.
After the lawsuit, Univision, the Spanish-language broadcaster and digital publisher, agreed to purchase Gawker Media’s stable of sites for $135 million in a bankruptcy auction. Univision continued to operate Gawker Media’s other properties but closed down the flagship site.
At the end of 2017, a Kickstarter campaign was launched in an effort to resurrect Gawker.com. The effort was helmed by members of the Gawker Foundation, a nonprofit created by former staffers who hoped to raise $500,000 to buy and relaunch the site. The campaign expired in January 2018, well short of its fundraising goal.
According to CNN reporter Oliver Darcy, Goldberg sent a note to his team that he bid on the site “under a new holding company, separate from Bustle” and “had no immediate plans to relaunch Gawker.”
Goldberg’s purchase of the site is particularly notable when you consider how extensively Gawker and Gawker sister site Valleywag wrote about him. Select pieces about Goldberg include “Who Gave This Asshole $6.5 Million to Launch a Bro-Tastic Lady Site?” “Bustle’s CEO Is Even More of a Self-Serving Misogynist Than You Feared,” “The Relentless and Well-Deserved Mockery of Bryan Goldberg” and “Did Google Just Snatch Back Its Funding From Bryan Goldberg’s Bustle?”
It’s not clear what Goldberg will do with the site, but the aforementioned articles may indicate that if Thiel killed the horse, Goldberg will try to beat it.