This book by Kieren McCarthy tells the story of the most valuable domain name in history:
In what has become the biggest case of domain theft, Sex.com was stolen by con-man Stephen M. Cohen in 1995, because he could persuade NSI to transfer it to him. Cohen then went on to develop the domain into a profitable online business that presumably made him more than $100,000 a month.
In the meantime, Kremen had sold his Match.com site and prepared to get his Sex.com domain back. First, he tried to convince Network Solutions that the domain was wrongly transferred away from him. However, Network Solutions refused to hand the domain back to him, so Kremen filed a lawsuit against Cohen in 1998. This was the beginning of a legal battle that would go on for years.
The domain was finally returned to Kremen in November 2000, but he still rightfully wanted to get a compensation for his loss in revenue. In April 2001, Kremen was awarded a total $65 million for lost earnings, which Cohen was ordered to pay. However, Cohen had fled the country to Tijuana in October 2000 and he was still not to be found. Kremen even posted a $50,000 reward for Cohen, but he later removed this reward after a shooting in Tijuana that supposedly was linked to the Sex.com case.
In 2005, Cohen was arrested in Tijuana for immigration violations and handed over to US marshals. Few months later, Kremen sold Sex.com to Escom LLC for $14 million. Kremen has yet to receive the $65 million owed to him, although he succeeded in seizing ownership of Cohen’s expensive mansion in San Diego, where he currently lives.
This story sounds like the plot of a Hollywood movie, but it really happened. What makes this an entertaining book to read despite the legal seesaw, is that it focuses on the interesting characters of Gary Kremen and Stephen M. Cohen. The “Sex.com” business-thriller is available at Amazon:
Here’s a list of articles about the legal battle and the Sex.com domain sale:
2000: Sex.com Saga Still Sizzling, Judge Orders Sex.com Returned, Sex.com changes hands
2001: Sex.com’s sordid story, Cost of Sex.com Theft: $65 Mil, Manhunt starts for Sex.com snatcher
2003: Sex.com owner can sue VeriSign
2004: Sex Site Settles with VeriSign
2005: Sex.com thief appears in court, Former SoCal man accused of stealing porn site arrested in Mexico
2006: Sex.com Acquired by Escom, LLC, Sex.com owner sells up to chase $65m damages