NEW YORK• • Mr Nick Denton, founder and chief executive of Gawker Media, filed for personal bankruptcy on Monday to protect himself against a legal judgment awarded in March to former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan in an invasionof-privacy lawsuit.
"Ever since the verdict, this was a likely outcome," Mr Denton said in an instant message.
Gawker, which faces a US$140-million (S$188-million) judgment, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June and put itself up for sale. The company will be sold at an auction that is expected to occur later this month.
Filing for bankruptcy puts a stay on claims from creditors, including court judgments, meaning Hulk Hogan, whose real name is Terry G. Bollea, will not be able to collect his award.
Gawker is appealing the judgment made by a jury that awarded Bollea US$115 million in damages and US$25 million more in punitive damages. Mr Denton is personally liable for US$10 million and jointly liable for US$115 million.
"I don't have that kind of money lying around," he said on Monday. "In fact, almost all my net worth is in the independent media business to which I have devoted my working life for the last 14 years."
In May, it was disclosed that billionaire Silicon Valley entrepreneur Peter Thiel had secretly financed Bollea's lawsuit. He said he was also funding other legal cases against the company.
"The time has come for Nick Denton to accept responsibility for the decisions he made and the rewards he reaped based on the suffering and humiliation of others," Mr David Houston, a lawyer for Bollea, said in a statement. "His bankruptcy has nothing to do with who paid Bollea's legal bills and everything to do with Denton's own choices and accountability."
Bollea sued Gawker Media, Mr Denton and Mr Albert J. Daulerio, former editor-in-chief of Gawker.com, in 2012 over Gawker's publication of a tape that showed Bollea having sex with the wife of his former friend. Mr Daulerio, who was ordered to pay US$100,000, is also expected to file for bankruptcy.
In his Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition, Mr Denton listed US$10 million to US$50 million in assets and US$100 million to US$500 million in liabilities.
Still, he said his personal bankruptcy would not have much of an effect on Gawker and painted an optimistic portrait.
"For the company, this does not mean too much," he said. "I am committed to finding the brands and the people a secure home, free of this vendetta. The bids are due in two weeks and the operation is in great shape, with growing traffic and revenue."
NEW YORK TIMES