Tags: New York Times | Peter Thiel | Bankroll | Hulk Hogan | Suit | Gawker

NYT: PayPal's Peter Thiel Secretly Bankrolling Hulk Hogan's Gawker Lawsuit

Image: NYT: PayPal's Peter Thiel Secretly Bankrolling Hulk Hogan's Gawker Lawsuit
Peter Thiel. (AP)

By    |   Wednesday, 25 May 2016 07:35 AM

Hulk Hogan has had a powerful financial partner in his corner bankrolling his legal battles against Gawker Media: PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, who almost 10 years ago was "outed" as a homosexual by one of the controversial company's websites.

According to persons briefed on the arrangement, speaking on the condition of anonymity to Forbes, which first reported the partnership, Thiel, agreed to help pay an undisclosed amount to bankroll for the legal team of Terry Gene Bollea, better known as Hogan.

Thiel, now open about his sexual orientation, has not commented about the Forbes report, but has had a long history of issues with Gawker, reports The New York Times, including once describing company-owned website Valleywag, a Silicon Valley gossip site that quit publishing new posts in 2015, as being the "Silicon Valley equivalent of al-Qaida."

Valleywag, where the story about Thiel was published, has since been absorbed into Gawker's overall website.

The details of Thiel's bankroll arrangement with the retired wrestling champion have been protected by a confidentiality agreement, reports The Times. Meanwhile, a Florida jury in March awarded Hogan $140 million over the sex tape Gawker put online in 2012.

Gawker is appealing the jury's decision, and company founder Nick Denton told The New York Times on Tuesday that he has believed for some time that Hogan had someone bankrolling his court battles, and that the party was linked to Silicon Valley.

"If you're a billionaire and you don't like the coverage of you, and you don't particularly want to embroil yourself any further in a public scandal, it's a pretty smart, rational thing to fund other legal cases," Denton said.

Typically, people involved in third-party arrangements reap financial benefits by sharing part of the court winnings. However, reports Forbes, Thiel may have had other motivations, including revenge for how Gawker revealed his sexuality.

Thiel describes himself as a libertarian, and is known as an "eccentric figure" in Silicon Valley, reports Forbes, which noted that by its estimates Thiel's net worth is at around $2.7 billion. In addition to founding PayPal, Thiel was an early financial backer for Facebook, and still sits on the social media site's board.

Hogan has also never mentioned a third-party backer, but Denton told Forbes Tuesday that he had heard Thiel's name mentioned, among others, in speculation that someone was bankrolling the retired wrestler's legal fights.

Hogan and his attorney, Charles Harder, have filed another lawsuit against Gawker, alleging that the media company tried to extort the wrestler over releasing the sex tape that led to the first lawsuit.

Denton said that Gawker, as an Internet publication, finds the tech industry of "particular interest," even while it publishes stories about powerful people in New York and Los Angeles.

Gawker is facing millions in legal fees defending itself against Hogan's lawsuits, in addition to the $140 million already awarded, and may have trouble moving forward financially, Forbes reports.

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Hulk Hogan has had a powerful financial partner in his corner bankrolling his legal battles against Gawker Media: PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, who almost 10 years ago was "outed" as a homosexual by one of the controversial company's websites.
New York Times, Peter Thiel, Bankroll, Hulk Hogan, Suit, Gawker
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2016-35-25
Wednesday, 25 May 2016 07:35 AM
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