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Gawker Media files for bankruptcy

Nick Denton, founder of Gawker. REUTERS/Tampa Bay Times/John Pendygraft

Gawker Media has filed for bankruptcy.

Gawker and its founder, Nick Denton, filed for Chapter 11 on Friday, listing the $140 million judgment against the company following the Hulk Hogan verdict as a "disputed claim."

Bankruptcy allows Gawker to avoid having its assets seized while it continues to appeal.

"Even with his billions, Thiel will not silence our writers. Our sites will thrive under new ownership and we'll win in court," Denton said in a tweet.

Gawker has said it will continue to publish, pay its staff, and appeal the verdict, according to The Wall Street Journal.

A new owner

The company will now be put up for auction, and publisher Ziff Davis has made a "firm" bid to buy Gawker Media, in its entirety, for "less than $100 million," Recode reports. This will be the opening bid, according to The Wall Street Journal, though Gawker expects higher bids will come in.

Ziff Davis, which is now helmed by Vivek Shah, the former Time Inc. exec, currently owns and runs a portfolio of publications including IGN, PCMag, and AskMen.

The money Gawker gets from the auction will go into a fund, which will be used for future legal costs and any eventual damages, according to The Journal. If any money is left after the litigation concludes (i.e., if Gawker wins), it will go to Denton as well as Gawker's investors.

The bankruptcy filing indicates Gawker has "between 200 and 1,000 creditors, between $50 million and $100 million in assets and $100 million to $500 million in liabilities," according to The New York Post.

Mike Kalasnik/Flickr

The case

In March, Hogan was awarded $140 million in damages stemming from a Gawker news article published in 2012, which included a clip of Hulk Hogan having sex, along with commentary.

It was revealed in late May that billionaire Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel had secretly financed Hulk Hogan's lawsuit and others against Gawker Media in an effort to put the website out of business.

"I saw Gawker pioneer a unique and incredibly damaging way of getting attention by bullying people even when there was no connection with the public interest," Thiel, whom Gawker reportedly outed as gay in 2007, told The New York Times.

Gawker Media was handed a legal loss in May, when a judge in Florida denied Gawker's motion for a new trial. That meant the damages would not be reduced. The judge also on Friday denied Gawker's request for a stay, according to Politico.

Even so, Denton has repeatedly said he is confident the company will succeed on appeal.

Thiel declined to comment.

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