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Sex.com sells for $13m

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The storied domain name sex.com is set to be sold for $13m, The Register has learned.

Bankrupt Escom LLC sex.com's current owner, has sealed a deal to hand over the domain to a company called Clover Holdings Ltd, according to documents filed this week in a California court.

Escom purchased the domain from its previous owner in 2006. The price then was variously reported as being between $12m and $14m, making it one of the most expensive domains of all time.

According to bankruptcy court documents, Clover Holdings was chosen from among 12 bidders after making the "highest and best offer".

Clover itself is a bit of a mystery. It is based on the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent, and the email address listed in court documents is @hushmail.com, the privacy-conscious webmail service.

The sale includes a couple of trademarks related to the domain.

The negotiations were handled by Sedo.com, a domain name auction company. Sedo, which will take a cut of the sale price, started soliciting offers in July.

The deal is subject to bankruptcy court approval. Escom sought a hearing on an accelerated timetable, which was granted yesterday. The hearing will be held next Wednesday, 27 October.

Sex.com is a domain with history. Originally registered by entrepreneur Gary Kremen in 1994, it was soon hijacked by convicted conman Stephen Cohen.

The theft was challenged in court, but it took Kremen five years to recover the domain, during which time Cohen was reportedly making up to $500,000 a month from advertising on the site.

A court ultimately issued a $65m judgement against Cohen, who fled to Mexico and was eventually arrested. He was released from prison in 2006.

The domain had almost as turbulent a time under Escom's ownership. A fight broke out between the company's creditors earlier this year when one of them pushed the domain to auction.

A few days before it was due to commence, other entities involved in Escom's complicated ownership structure filed an involuntary bankruptcy petition, effectively putting the stoppers on the auction.

These entities, controlled by Mike Mann, claimed that the selected auction house, which does not specialise in domain names, was not the place to get the best price for the domain.

A deal was eventually reached which allowed the bankruptcy court to order, in June, that Sedo could handle the sale instead.

Had a private sale not been agreed, sex.com was scheduled to go to public auction next week. ®

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