Gawker Bid to Buy Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's Crack Pipe Video Hits Snag

Rob Ford - TV Still: This Hour Has 22 Minutes - H - SCREEN GRAB - 2011

The New York City-based gossip site, near to raising $200,000 on Indiegogo for the purchase, has lost contact with the videotape owner.

TORONTO – Despite sparking an international media circus, Gawker’s Indiegogo “Crackstarter” campaign to raise $200,000 to buy and publish a video allegedly showing Toronto mayor Rob Ford smoking a crack cocaine pipe has hit a major hurdle.

The New York City-based gossip website said in an update that it has lost contact with Canadian Somalian drug pushers auctioning off the smartphone video in question.

“We were initially made aware of the video by a tipster, who connected us with the owner of the video after we traveled to Toronto,” Gawker’s John Cook wrote in a blog late Thursday.

STORY: Gawker Crowdfunds to Buy Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Crack Tape

At the same time, the anonymous tipster has lost track of the video owner.

“… He has told us that (he) hasn't been able to make contact with the owner of the video in recent days,” Cook continued.

Gawker reports it has raised $145,000, and expects to meet its fund-raising goal in time this weekend.

Cook speculated the video owner has gone underground either out of fright at the worldwide media attention the issue has garnered or to surface only when the $200,000 is raised and put on the table.

“At this point, we have no idea why he is out of touch, or if he even knows about the Crackstarter campaign. He may have decided against selling the video,” Cook further warned.

Absent the video allegedly showing the Toronto mayor inhaling from a crack pipe, Ford has remained virtually silent in the face of the mounting scandal.

Also Thursday, the CBC reported Ford fired his chief of staff Mark Towhey because he privately advised the mayor to “go away and get help” for his addiction.