David Rockefeller jr. and some of the American philanthropist's friends have collected more than 40 thousand dollars for the new Oseberg ship.
Text: Eivind Luthen
The story started this past winter when chairman of the board, Einar Chr. Erlingsen received an email from Norwegian-American Sven Huseby in New York:
"On June 30th I will be in Tønsberg with a group of friends to begin a journey through Scandinavia by sailboat. Could we book a guided tour in English at 1.30 pm?”
" ‘Of course I'll take you on a tour', I answered and since this was an American group I figured it best to put on my full Viking attire, including drinking horn and sheath knife,” says Erlingsen.
They chose Tønsberg. Precisely at 1.30 pm a group of 30 Americans arrived on foot from Tønsberg's guest marina, where they had just taken over five
ocean-going yachts. Erlingsen was introduced to Huseby and also met the leader of the group, a guy in his 60s called David.
"I had no idea who this really was, but I quickly understood that this was a group of people who were more than average interested in sailing, the sea and Vikings. They had their own T shirts and caps engraved with "Viking voyage 2011”. On the back of the T shirt was a map of Scandinavia with only one Norwegian city marked: Tønsberg, of course. The group was going to sail for four weeks in the Vikings' wake and had chosen to begin their voyage with a trip to see the Oseberg,” says Erlingsen.
The tour took almost two hours and towards the end, "David” decided to introduce himself properly.
"I must admit, I was very surprised, to put it mildly,” admits Erlingsen, adding that it was just as well he hadn't known Rockefeller's true identity right from the beginning. "I might not have been as outspoken and free as I usually am. I had actually made a little fun of David, comparing him to the Oseberg queen. They both had a beard!”
The chairman was also pleasantly shocked when Rockefeller stated that he and his friends were going to raise some funds for the ship. "I didn't know what to think, but I had to assume that people like them meant what they said,” he says.
A rich uncle in America. And they did as they said they would. 220 thousand Norwegian kroner have been transferred from America to the New Oseberg Ship with greetings from David and Susan Rockefeller, Sven Huseby and his wife Barbara P. Ettinger, Chris Buck and Dr. Alexander Clowes.
"At times when our finances are low and things aren't looking too good, we have joked with the need to find a rich uncle in America. Now it seems we have both uncles and aunts and they have found us,” says Erlingsen.
Well paid: "This is the first and last time we will be paid NOK 220 000 for a guided tour,” says Einar Chr. Erlingsen about the donation from David Rockefeller and friends. (Photo: Per Gilding/Tønsbergs Blad)
Putting Tønsberg on the map: Mayor of Vestfold county Per-Eivind Johansen, chairman of the board Einar Chr. Erlingsen and Tønsberg mayor Petter Berg showing off the T shirt from David Rockefeller and his friends. As you can see, Tønsberg is the only town in Norway worth going to when you want to study the Viking Age in Norway! (Photo: Rigmor Sørensen)