US website Recode says Gawker Media has been bought at auction this week by Spanish media and TV group Univision for US$135 million. The bankruptcy auction was held on Tuesday and attracted only two bids, Univision and Ziff Davis (which started with a low-ball bid of US$90 million).

Gawker filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after wrestler Hulk Hogan won a US$140 million verdict from an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit against Gawker for posting a sex tape of Hogan.

A Florida circuit judge upheld the award to Hogan, whose legal effort was backed by Silicon Valley right wing billionaire Peter Thiel.

US media reports say that most of Univision’s cash will go to Hogan. Gawker founder Nick Denton is responsible for paying US$10 million to the wrestler, and he and Gawker jointly owe US$115 million. A US bankruptcy court judge needs to approve the sale and when it is final, the funds will be set aside while Gawker appeals its court case; eventually the money will go to the side that wins.

Media assets include Gawker as well as Gizmodo, Lifehacker, Kotaku, Jalopnik, Deadspin and Jezebel. If the deal is done, these will be added to Univision’s stable, which includes the Spanish-language TV station, US satire website The Onion and African-American site The Root. Earlier this year Univision moved to assume full control of Fusion, a network and digital publisher aimed at millennials. Univision had started the business in partnership with Disney.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey