- David Lidstone was jailed in July after refusing to leave his home on someone else’s land.
- The day before he was released from jail, his cabin of 27 years burned down in an accidental fire.
- After hearing Lidstone’s story, a tech billionaire donated $180,000 to help him find a new home.
David Lidstone, the New Hampshire hermit known as “River Dave,” is getting a second chance to live out his isolated lifestyle after his home was decimated in a fire — thanks to a donation from a tech billionaire.
Alexander Karp, CEO of Palantir Technologies, wrote him a personal check for $180,000 on August 11 to help him rebuild his cabin in a new location, Lidstone’s close friend Jodie Gedeon said in a Facebook post on Thursday.
The donation was confirmed by a Palantir spokesperson on behalf of Karp, the Concord Monitor reports. Karp has a net worth of over $2.1 billion according to Forbes.
Gedeon included a video of Lidstone, who had been living as a hermit for 27 years in the woods along the Merrimack River until July, sharing his gratitude for his unexpected 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,” Lidstone said in the video. “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
In her Facebook post, Gedeon said the donation would help him “return to peace and harmony in the world of nature he loves so much (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).”
“How can I express myself and my gratitude towards something like that? I start to tear up whenever I think about it,” Lidstone told the Concord Monitor. “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.”
In an interview with The Associated Press on August 11, Lidstone said that after pleading his rights to live in his isolated cabin of nearly three decades in court, he couldn’t see himself returning to his hermit life.
“I don’t see how I can go back to being a hermit because society is not going to allow it,” he said.
According to a court summary obtained by Insider, he was jailed on July 15 under a civil contempt sanction issued by Merrimack Superior Court for refusing to leave private property owned by Leonard Giles, where Lidstone had lived for 27 years.
Lidstone said a family member once told him he could stay, but Giles has wanted Lidstone to leave since he first discovered him living there in 2015, according to the AP.
While defending his case from jail on August 4, his home was decimated in a fire which Canterbury fire chief Michael Gamache told WMUR was likely started accidentally by someone attempting to dismantle the cabin.
Lidstone was subsequently released from jail, agreeing in court to collect his personal belongings including his cats and chickens, after the judge presiding over the case ruled he would have little incentive to return, the AP reported at the time.
Since then, there has been an outpouring of support for Lidstone. Over 270 donors have contributed to a GoFundMe appeal to help him relocate, raising over $14,300 at the time of writing.
On Saturday, Lidstone and his supporters are set to celebrate Karp’s donation at a party open to the public at the home of one of his friends, the Concord Monitor reports. In the Facebook post shared by Gedeon, she directly invited Karp to meet Lidstone.
“He would be honored to shake your hand and thank you in person,” Gedeon wrote.
Gedeon and Karp did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.