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Billionaire Gives $180,000 To Hermit Whose Cabin Was Destroyed By Fire

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Billionaire Gives $180,000 To Hermit Whose Cabin Was Destroyed By Fire

A hermit who was jailed for living on someone else's land - despite the fact he'd been there for 27 years - has been donated a large sum of money by tech billionaire Alexander Karp after his cabin home was destroyed by a fire.

Eighty-one-year-old David Lidstone - known locally as 'River Dave' - has been living off the grid in New Hampshire for around 27 years.

However, since 2015 he has been told by the owner of the land, a man called Leonard Giles, that he must leave.

He was sentenced to jail after a civil contempt sanction was issued by the Merrimack Superior Court because he refused to leave his home of nearly three decades.


While he was in prison, his cabin was destroyed by a fire, leaving him with nothing.

The fire destroyed River Dave's home of decades. Credit: Canterbury Fire Department
The fire destroyed River Dave's home of decades. Credit: Canterbury Fire Department

Lidstone claims a family member once told him he could remain on the land, but Giles claims to have wanted him out since discovering him living there six years ago.

Fire officials ruled that the fire was likely started accidentally by someone attempting to dismantle the property, and once Lidstone was released from jail he was deemed to have little reason to return, except to pick up his cats and chickens.


His plight sparked a slew of donations, including a GoFundMe page that raised nearly $15,000 (£11,011).

Lidstone's situation eventually came to the attention of Karp, the CEO of Palantir Technologies.

He wrote a cheque for $180,000 (£132,134) which will enable Lidstone to begin a new life in a new location.

In a video - shared by River Dave's close friend Jodie Gedeon - he told his benefactor: "Mr. Karp, I cannot express the feelings I have for what you've done, if I go any further I'm going to break down and cry.


"Thank you, thank you, thank you."

In a Facebook post, Gedeon explained how the money will help Dave 'return to peace and harmony in the world of nature he loves so much'.

She added: "Although I suspect not so far into the woods this time so he can connect with new friends and old friends, family and the community".


Speaking to the Concord Monitor, Lidstone said: "How can I express myself and my gratitude towards something like that? I start to tear up whenever I think about it.

"For an old logger who always had to work, for anyone to give you that type of money, it's incredibly difficult for me to get my head around."

After nearly three decades in isolation - as well as everything he's been through - River Dave doesn't think it'll be easy for him to live as a hermit once again.

He explained: "I don't see how I can go back to being a hermit because society is not going to allow it."

Featured Image Credit: GoFundMe

Topics: Money, Interesting, US News, Technology, Weird

Tom Wood
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