Billionaire CEO Gives New Hampshire Hermit ‘River Dave’ $180K To Rebuild Cabin

by Matthew Memrick

New Hampshire hermit “River Dave” is getting some unlikely help in the form of $180K from a billionaire neighbor.

According to The New York Post, Data analytics firm Palantir CEO Alex Karp cut David Lidstone a personal check last week to help the troubled man.

Lidstone lost his cabin in a fire amid a property dispute. Now, the hermit can build a new one in a different New Hampshire location. Lidstone’s friend, Jodie Gedeon, announced in a post last week.

The 81-year-old Lidstone recently lost his house along the Merrimack River after property owners learned about the man. Lidstone had been squatting on the property for almost three decades.

86-year-old Leonard Giles forced “River Dave” off of his wooded land, and authorities jailed him last month. In addition to his troubles, Lidstone’s cabin mysteriously burned to the ground. An investigation is still pending in the fire.

Lidstone had lived on the New Hampshire property since 1963. He had said he had a verbal agreement to live on the property with a member of the Giles family.

A House for a New Hampshire Hermit

A Palantir spokesperson confirmed the donation without further comment. The Concord Monitor first reported on the gift. Karp is a Grafton County resident.

Lidstone is still amazed by the billionaire’s gift.

“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 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.”

Gedeon told the newspaper that Lidstone will stay in temporary New Hampshire housing for the winter. She said the new house be built in “the spring” and in a secret location. Currently, Gedeon said the money is in a trust.

Gedeon, a kayaker, spearheaded a local group to help Lidstone. The group started a petition drive and enabled him amid all the drama.

“He’s just a really, really, big caring guy, and just chooses to live off the grid,” Gedeon told The Associated Press. “It is about humanity. It really is about compassion, empathy… he’s not hurting anybody.”

Could “River Dave” go back to being a hermit now? In an Associated Press interview recently, the New Hampshire hermit said no. He said, “society is not going to allow it” in the interview. 

Lidstone said he drifted from his wife and family. The former Air Force veteran, who had a wife and four children, has avoided human contact for many years. 

Other than that, Lidstone had not shared much else about the family. The Associated Press said two of the hermit’s three sons had not been in touch with him. A daughter did not respond to a voice message. 

Lidstone earned money as a woodsman and kept all of his stuff in the New Hampshire cabin. 

“I grew up never being hugged or kissed, or any close contact,” Lidstone said.