Tech billionaire Alex Karp gives $180k to ousted hermit River Dave 

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    'River Dave' Lidstone at the boat ramp on the Merrimack River in Boscawen on Saturday, August 7. His friends were going to his old cabin, which had burned down to check on his cats and chickens. A judge had not yet allowed him to return to the property to gather his belongings. "I'm just going stand on the other side of the river like a good little boy," he said. Jonathan Van Fleet

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    'River Dave' Lidstone at the boat ramp on the Merrimack River in Boscawen on Saturday, August 7. His friends were going to his old cabin, which had burned down to check on his cats and chickens. A judge had not yet allowed him to return to the property to gather his belongings. "I'm just going stand on the other side of the river like a good little boy," he said. Jonathan Van Fleet

  • Jodie Gedeon, left, hugs David Lidstone, 81, right, on Aug. 5, after Lidstone was released from Merrimack County Jail. Geoff Forester / Monitor file

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    FILE - In this May 23, 2018 file photo, Alexander Karp, US co-founder and CEO of the software firm Palantir Technologies leaves after the "Tech for Good" Summit at the Elysee Palace in Paris. Pay packages rose yet again in 2020 for the CEOs of the biggest U.S. companies, even though the pandemic sent the economy to its worst quarter on record and slashed corporate profits around the world. (AP Photo/Francois Mori) Francois Mori—AP

Monitor staff
Published: 8/19/2021 2:54:55 PM

River Dave will be able to build a new home thanks to an unexpected benefactor: Palantir Technologies CEO and billionaire Alexander Karp, who gave former hermit David Lidstone a personal check for $180,000 last week.

Jodie Gedeon, a kayaker friend of Lidstone, announced the donation on a Facebook group for Lidstone’s supporters. Gedeon said a lawyer representing Karp delivered the check on Aug. 11. The money will be used to build a new home for Lidstone, after the cabin he built along the Merrimack River burned down weeks ago amid a property dispute.

Lisa Gordon, a Palantir spokesperson speaking on Karp’s behalf, confirmed the donation but declined to comment further. Karp lives in New Hampshire’s Grafton County.

“How can I express myself and my gratitude towards something like that? I start to tear up whenever I think about it,” Lidstone said. “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.”

The money will go towards rebuilding elsewhere, Gedeon said. “Right now we set up a trust for Dave and it’s going to be utilized to build him a new home. We have this temporary house set-up for the winter but we’re not going to be able to build until spring,” Gedeon said. She said they are keeping the location of Lidstone’s winter digs private.

After he was jailed on July 15 for refusing to leave the Canterbury land where he was squatting, Lidstone has received an outpouring of support and offers for help. One potential space for him to rebuild is on a nearby property owned by the congregation of the Concord Friends Meeting.

Karp co-founded data mining company Palantir Technologies in 2003. The company, which received early funding from the CIA and makes software used by governments and businesses, received criticism for working with U.S. Customs and Border Enforcement during the Trump administration. Forbes puts Karp’s net worth at $2.2 billion.

“I truly believe it’s in Mr. Karp’s nature to do this,” Gedeon said. “He is a sincere person cares about others. He has humanity; he does the right thing.”

On Saturday, Lidstone and friends will celebrate the donation and his homecoming after his stint at Merrimack County Jail at a party at the home of friend Tom Dunne. The public event will be held at 1 Melvin Mill Road in Warner from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Cassidy Jensen bio photo

Cassidy Jensen has been a reporter at the Monitor, covering the city of Concord and criminal justice, since July 2021. Previously, she was a fellow at the Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism at Columbia University, where she earned a master's degree. Her work has been published in Documented, THE CITY, Washington City Paper and Street Sense Media. When she's not at City Council meetings, you can find her hiking in the White Mountains.



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