In what could enable him to delete the site's content once and for all, Peter Thiel has filed a motion challenging the sale of Gawker's assets, saying that the billionaire has been unfairly prevented from bidding for the website he played an instrumental role in bringing down.
"In light of the Plan Administrator's refusal to allow Mr. Thiel to participate in the sale process, Mr. Thiel's counsel requested that the Plan Administrator agree to pause the ongoing sale process so that a sale of the assets is not consummated until the issues concerning the Plan Administrator's blockade of Mr. Thiel as a bidder are resolved," the complaint says.
Representatives for Peter Thiel did not immediately respond to TheWrap's request for comment.
The billionaire Facebook investor bankrolled Hulk Hogan's lawsuit that bankrupted Gawker's parent company Gawker Media, which was hit with a $140 million judgment over the publication of part of a sex tape involving the wrestler. While the company subsequently sold most of its assets to Univision, Univision did not, acquire Gawker.com, which remains for sale.
Whoever ultimately acquires the site will be able to do whatever they want with its assets -- including delete them.
In the complaint, filed Wednesday in the U.S. bankruptcy court in the Southern District of New York, Thiel's attorneys claim that by excluding the billionaire, the bankruptcy administrator is not doing his fiduciary duty in maximizing value for the stakeholders. If Thiel were to purchase the site, he would also have control over its archives -- with the ability to wipe them.
"The Plan Administrator has lost sight of his fiduciary duties," the complaint said. "By wrongly excluding Mr. Thiel, the most able and logical purchaser, from the sale process on specious grounds, maintaining selective secrecy over that process, and insisting on proceeding with expensive and unwarranted discovery against him concerning alleged claims that are now being marketed to third parties, the Plan Administrator will only depress the value to be achieved in any sale."
The reaction online to Thiel's motion was almost unilaterally negative, with most concerned about the symbolism of a powerful billionaire effectively salting the earth after destroying a media outlet that had offended him. Read a sampling below.
Peter Thiel possibly spending his own money to buy Gawker dot com just to wipe the archives is an incredible exhibit in the case against unrestrained wealth.
— Lindsey Adler (@lindseyadler) November 22, 2017
Me, wondering why Peter Thiel is trending: pic.twitter.com/OBFDN0mipC
— Ira Madison III (@ira) November 23, 2017
I'm thankful for Peter Thiel just on the basis of his making all comic book villains more plausible in literary terms.
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) November 22, 2017
Peter Thiel is an excellent argument for higher taxes.
Some billionaires dedicate a chapter of their lives to philanthropy but his projects are like a form of anti-charity.https://t.co/LgiQDunm3S
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) November 22, 2017
he’s one of the only potential buyers who could afford to withstand a barrage of future lawsuits funded by Peter Thiel https://t.co/MHu531VBnW
— Sam Biddle (@samfbiddle) November 22, 2017
a cool thing about the American legal system is it's 90% openly for sale, deepest pockets wins https://t.co/L2iMLSwtEW
— ryan cooper (@ryanlcooper) November 22, 2017
Wait! Peter Thiel said the Hogan lawsuit was about protecting privacy. So why is he trying to obliterate Gawker? Unless... ????
— Justin Miller (@justinjm1) November 22, 2017
Buzzfeed first reported the court filing.