A last-ditch, last minute effort by Mark’s List publisher Bobby Blair to acquire the defunct URL websites of the South Florida Blade and 411 failed last Thursday in the United States Bankruptcy Court in Atlanta, Georgia.
However, a bidding war between Blair and Hot Spots publisher Peter Clark was also averted when the two parties reached an ‘amicable resolution’ concerning the limited assets of the bankrupt corporations.
As reported in the February 8 issue of SFGN, Unite Media went into bankruptcy last November, shutting down its operations and the offices of the South Florida Blade and 411, along with its sister publications in both Washington, D.C., and Atlanta.
Upon the filing of the insolvency papers, the US Bankruptcy Court appointed a trustee to sell off any of the remaining assets of the companies to mitigate the losses of the publications’ multiple creditors. Unfortunately for U.S. taxpayers, the actual losses were ‘in millions’ and the remaining assets ‘in the thousands.’
The bidding concluded at the end of January, and Bankruptcy Trustee filed papers with the court approving the sale of the URL’s of Genre, South Florida Blade, Express Gay News, and 411 to Hot Spots publisher Peter Clark. The sale price for the once million dollar enterprise was a meager $3,200, including a box of monitors stored in a warehouse and used and damaged newsracks in venues all over the tri county area. “As is, where they are,” said Stuart Clayton, the bankruptcy trustee.
Clark’s decision to make the purchase was obviously on one hand to point the URL’s towards his own magazine, but also to donate the archives of the websites to the Stonewall Library.
The only bidder, he was informed late last Wednesday that a mysterious third party had at the last minute put up a $4200 letter of credit to outbid him. SFGN discovered that the bidder was indeed Mark’s List publisher Bobby Blair, who flew to Atlanta on Thursday morning to do an end-around by Clark. But having himself got wind of the effort, so too did Clark brave the 26 degree cold and fly to Atlanta with the intention and purpose of outbidding the Johnny come lately, Bobby Blair. The drama!
As far as the bankruptcy trustee is concerned, dutibound to acquire as much money as he can to offset the losses the Small Business Administration and the IRS sustained from the defaulted loans, he could care less who bid what as long as he got the best deal.
With Blair and Clark both sitting outside the courtroom at 10 am and a potential bidding war about to ensue, they struck a deal which apparently worked out well for both parties.
First, the US Bankruptcy Court entered an order granting Clark the exclusive right to all the URL’s for the originally proffered sum of $3,200.
In exchange for Blair walking away from a bidding war, both parties agreed to mutually donate the archives of the defunct publications to the Stonewall Library. But there may be significant disappointment at all levels with the archives, unless someone has the information stored on back up discs.
Sadly, SFGN has learned that the servers of the Blade and 411, which housed the magazine and paper’s content, out of Boston, may have discarded and destroyed some of their product during the lengthy period of time in 2009 when Window and Unite Media were not paying their debts, just prior to their filing for bankruptcy.
Blair also wrested from Clark an agreement to let him keep the news racks of 411 and the Blade now situated in multiple South Florida venues. SFGN had reported last month that Mark’s List employees were seizing the racks and placing their nametags on them prior to the final decision of the federal court. A minor feud had developed as many distribution points are swamped with free publications and there is limited space which tabloids and magazines fight for.
Stated Travis Duncan of Coast to Coast Media on Las Olas, “It does not matter which publication it is, sooner or later I am cleaning a mess up off the floor.” Many owners feel similarly, but also recognize they need to carry the free papers. Joel Quinn, the departing manager of a Wilton Manors Starbucks indicates that the “corporate offices are becoming even more restrictive and limiting as to what we can put where or if we can put anything anywhere even if we want to.”
Rumors abound that Mark’s List may have to get even newer stickers than the ones they just attached to the old 411 and Blade news racks. As word of their ‘realignment’ party gets around town, inside sources indicate that Mark’s List magazine is going to re-brand itself with yet another new name at the big shindig slated for The Manor on March 11.
For its own part, the ‘Read Red’ and ‘Read all Over’ campaign of the South Florida Gay News launches with this issue, as the newspaper places, deploys and distributes over one hundred and twenty five new fire engine red indoor wire news racks and outdoor news boxes over the tri county area.
Any venue seeking to acquire a distribution rack should contact the SFGN office manager, Steve, at 954 530 4970. They are available, first-come, first served, and do not need the approval of a US District Court judge prior to their disbursement.