Sex.com’s Kremen: It’s Not Over

SAN FRANCISCO — The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals here last week rejected Stephen Cohen’s appeal of a 2001 ruling ordering him to pay Gary Kremen $65 million for stealing the domain Sex.com.

“Stephen Cohen is an international fugitive and a convicted criminal,” Kremen told XBiz. “I’m probably not going to get anything.”

Cohen fled the United States immediately after the 2001 decision and now makes his living in European casinos and construction projects.

Kremen registered Sex.com in 1994. A year later, Cohen convinced domain registrar Network Solutions (NSI) to turn over the site rights to him. According to court documents, Cohen used a forged letter to fool NSI into believing Kremen had transferred the domain to him. Cohen controlled Sex.com for five years, pulling in about $40 million from advertisers and content providers who parked on the site.

Kremen, the Stanford-educated co-founder of dating site Match.com, has since paid about $4.5 million in legal fees, resulting at least in a settlement from VeriSign, which acquired Network Solutions in 1998. Kremen receives approximately $8 million in revenue now that he has reacquired Sex.com. The settlement also netted Kremen a San Diego house once owned by Cohen.

“I have parties there every once in a while,” he said.

Kremen left Match.com and now operates Grant Media. He dabbles in various businesses, he said, and invests in venture capital firms. He doesn’t believe that last week’s rejection of Cohen’s appeal is the end of the Sex.com saga.

“I’m sure we haven’t heard the last chapter,” he said, referring to outstanding cases against Cohen’s fifth wife and business associates. Kremen estimated that he still spends 20 percent of his time in some kind of legal wrangling with Cohen et al. “There is definitely more to come.”

Cohen once foiled Kremen’s attempt to obtain information about him for a subpoena. Kremen, under an assumed name, had sent a check to an address Cohen used in Mexico. Cohen didn’t cash it, thus not revealing his banking data. Instead, he sent Kremen a note reading “nice try” along with a blow-up doll.

“I still have the doll around here somewhere,” Kremen told XBiz. “It’s attractive in its own way.”

Kremen described Cohen as charming. The two men had dinner in San Diego prior to the 2001 ruling. Their lawyers were present.

“Cohen’s not an idiot,” Kremen said. “By the end of the dinner, he’d made me feel like I stole something from him.”