In the prologue to his book “Olav Thon – Billionaire in a Parka”, about self-made billionaire and Norway’s wealthiest citizen Olav Thon, author Hallgrim Berg calls Thon’s story “one of remarkable talent, creativity and endurance.” It is also a story of unusual modesty and rare generosity. By 17, he was a business owner and on a path of investments that would eventually make him Norway’s largest property owner. And when others his age are contemplating retirement, Thon was pondering hotels and shopping mall development, and now at age 90 oversees an empire of 450 properties, including 60 hotels, and was listed in 2013 as Forbes’ 198th richest person in the world.
Among his many honors, Thon appreciates especially his honorary membership in the Norwegian Trekking Association, the country’s premier outdoors Association. In Berg’s words, Thon embodies the spirit of old Norsemen…being curious, open minded, looking for opportunities and willing to learn, to adapt, to grow, to negotiate, to strike a deal, usually for the common good.” Having no heirs, Thon has announced his intention to give away all his properties and assts to society, particularly to medical science, through the establishment of an independent foundation. Olav Thon was presented by Hallgrim Berg.
In Left-Leaning Norway, Its Wealthy ‘Fox’ Gleefully Wings To The Right (Feb. 7, 2014, New York Times)