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Sex.com owner sells up to chase $65m damages

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He may just have sold it for $14m, but the owner of the world's most valuable domain name, Gary Kremen, now intends to spend his time recovering the $65m he is still owed by the con-man who stole the domain 10 years ago.

Kremen sold Sex.com to Escom for $14m on Wednesday but retains the technology he has built behind it since November 2000, plus a trademark for the name Sex.com.

It is also believed that Kremen has not sold the entire domain but only a majority holding in it, retaining a minority stake for himself.

Kremen refuses to discuss any details of the deal but exclusively told The Register he had been "made an offer I couldn't refuse". Asked how he could sell his baby, which he spent millions of dollars and years in court to gain ownership of, he told us simply: "Babies grow up."

Kremen had originally registered Sex.com in May 1994 but it was stolen by lifelong con-man Stephen Cohen from under his nose in October 1995. Cohen spent the next five years battling to regain control of the domain.

Cohen continued to run the domain at the height of the dotcom boom, making tens of millions of dollars each year and using part of the profits to ruin legal efforts by Kremen to get it back. Eventually, however, Kremen won the case and with it $65m in damages.

Rather than pay, Cohen fled to Mexico and was on the run from May 2001, until he was finally caught in Tijuana in October. He is now resting in a US jail. Cohen has appeared before the original trial judge, Judge James Ware, who reportedly went "ballistic" at the fugitive from justice. Ware also ruled that Cohen will stay in jail until he starts collaborating with investigators trying to track down the millions he has stashed in off-shore accounts.

Kremen told us now he has sold Sex.com that he will spent his time on the "100 different investments" he has. He recently bought 5,000 adult domain names and intends to use the advanced pay-per-click technology invented at Sex.com to make money from data traffic.

However, Kremen confessed the main focus of his attention will now be tracking down Cohen's money through the labrinyth of shell companies he runs across the world. "He clearly made even more than we thought," Kremen explained.

Cohen has been forced to give depositions while in jail outlining his financial affairs. As with his previous depositions in 2000, however, he has had an enormous attack of amnesia, this time, the confidence trickster asserts, due to a stroke he suffered while on the run.

Kremen has yet to receive one cent of the $65m owed to him, although he did manage to seize ownership of Cohen's mansion in the exclusive San Diego district of Rancho Santa Fe, where he lives to this day.

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