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National Enquirer sold to group that includes indicted ex-MoviePass chairman

The tabloid will be bought by a group that includes a company founded by Theodore Farnsworth, the indicted ex-chairman of MoviePass.
A newspaper vendor displays a copy of the National Enquirer at his newstand in New York
A newspaper vendor with a copy of the National Enquirer at his newsstand in New York on Feb. 8, 2019. Timothy A. Clary / AFP via Getty Images file
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The National Enquirer, the tabloid at the center of many controversies involving former President Donald Trump, will be sold to a joint venture involving Theodore Farnsworth, the former MoviePass chairman who has been criminally charged with securities fraud.

The Enquirer’s parent company, a360 Media, agreed to sell the publication — along with other tabloid brands the National Examiner, the Globe and the National Enquirer UK — to VVIP Ventures, a joint venture made up of Vinco Ventures and Icon Publishing, the companies said Monday.

The deal’s price wasn’t disclosed, but Farnsworth, the founder of Icon Publishing, told The New York Times that it was a little under $100 million. The National Enquirer has been on the block for about four years.

In November, prosecutors alleged Farnsworth and Mitchell Lowe, the former MoviePass CEO, misled investors about the once-hot movie ticketing startup by saying its “unlimited” plan would be sustainable and profitable. Rather, authorities said, the two men knew it was merely a marketing tactic. A spokesman for Farnsworth has said his lawyers would fight the charges until he’s vindicated.

The news of the deal comes a week after former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker and his attorney were seen entering a Manhattan courthouse where a grand jury was meeting to determine whether to charge Trump over an alleged scheme to pay hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election.

Pecker was known to be friends with Trump. He has been accused of pulling “catch and kill” tactics on stories that were seen as potentially embarrassing to Trump. Meaning, the Enquirer under his watch would allegedly pay for stories about Trump and never publish them.

In 2018, for instance, federal prosecutors gave immunity to the National Enquirer’s parent company over the $150,000 hush-money payment the tabloid gave Karen McDougal, the Playboy model who claims she had an affair with Trump.