Creditors halt sale

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The auction of, one of the internet’s most valuable addresses, was halted at the eleventh hour when its owner’s creditors forced the company into bankruptcy protection in the US.

The domain name had been due to go under the hammer at a New York auction house on Thursday, but a dissident group of creditors forced the parent company, Escom, into involuntary Chapter 11, with an early-morning court filing in California.

Escom paid an estimated $14m for in 2006, but had defaulted on a massive loan. That lender had seized the domain name and put it up for sale, but the future of all of Escom’s assets will now have to be decided by a bankruptcy court judge.

The cancellation of the auction is the latest twist in the extraordinary 16-year history of, which was only returned to its original owner after a decade-long court battle against a con man who stole the domain name in an elaborate scam.