The Billionaire Founder Of PayPal Has Secretly Been Funding Hulk Hogan’s Lawsuit Against Gawker
Back in March, wrestling super star Hulk Hogan dropped a massive leg-drop from the top rope on Gawker Media to the tune of $140 million. The lawsuit win comes after the New York-based media company published his sex tape a few years ago without his consent. Gawker appealed the lawsuit, but just a couple minutes ago the news broke that a Florida judge denied the motion for a new trial and won’t reduce Hogan’s hefty payout:
Yesterday in the New York Times, Andrew Ross Sorkin (a co-creator of the show Billions on Showtime) interviewed Gawker founder Nick Denton about the lawsuit. Denton speculated “rather conspiracy-theorylike” to Sorkin that a third party was underwriting Hogan’s massive legal costs for the lawsuit, especially considering that Gawker had spent over $10 million to date defending itself. Hogan may be rich, but it’s hard to imagine a man who hasn’t worked in a long time sitting around with $10 million to burn on a lawsuit.
Last night the news emerged on who. According to some great reporting by Forbes, the billionaire PayPal founder and early Facebook investor Peter Thiel was footing the bill.
Peter Thiel, a PayPal cofounder and one of the earliest backers of Facebook FB, has been secretly covering the expenses for Hulk Hogan’s lawsuits against online news organization Gawker Media. According to people familiar with the situation who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity, Thiel, a cofounder and partner at Founders Fund, has played a lead role in bankrolling the cases Terry Bollea, a.k.a. Hogan, brought against New York-based Gawker. Hogan is being represented by Charles Harder, a prominent Los Angeles-based lawyer.
So… Why? Thiel notoriously hates Gawker from the rowdy pre-Facebook blog days when the company tried to out him. Via Forbes:
Money may not have been the main motivation in the first place. Thiel, who is gay, has made no secret of his distaste for Gawker, which attempted to out him in late 2007 before he was open about his sexuality. In 2009, Thiel told PEHub that now-defunct Silicon Valley-focused publication Valleywag, which was owned by Gawker, had the “psychology of a terrorist.”
“Valleywag is the Silicon Valley equivalent of Al Qaeda,” Thiel said at the time.
Ouch. Gawker’s legal woes don’t end there, either. Forbes reports that Gawker still has two other major lawsuits on its hands that are pretty far away from court dates. Via:
A partner with Harder Mirell & Abrams LLP, Harder is a well-known Hollywood lawyer whose past clients included George Clooney, Julia Roberts and a slew of other celebrities. He is also representing plaintiffs against Gawker in other lawsuits, including a defamation case on behalf of Shiva Ayydurai in Boston that was filed earlier this month. Ayydurai, who claims to have invented email, was the subject of a story by Gawker journalist Sam Biddle, who wrote that the plaintiff was a “fraud” according to former colleagues. Ayydurai’s lawsuit seeks “no less than $35 million in damages.”
Harder has represented writer Ashley Terrill since January and filed an amended complaint in her lawsuit against Gawker and Biddle in April. She alleges that the site published “a false and highly defamatory hit-piece” about her written by Biddle last year after she had initiated a working relationship with Gawker to publish a story. Earlier this month Gawker’s lawyers argued that Terrill’s case should be dismissed. On May 18, the judge in the case gave Terrill’s legal team two weeks to file a second amended complaint before the case moved forward. As of Tuesday, no additional documents have been filed in the case.”
It has not been reported how much money Peter Thiel will take home from the Hogan case. He’s estimated to be worth $2.7 billion, so it’s not like he’s desperate for the money.
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