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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Real estate tycoon honeymoons at 95

Norway’s 95-year-old real estate investor and hotel tycoon Olav Thon has been on an albeit short honeymoon this summer, after marrying his long-time sweetheart and former judge Sissel Berdal Haga (age 78). The couple has proven, according to Oslo Mayor Marianne Borgen, that there’s no age limit on love.

Olav Thon with his characteristic red cap at an annual gathering hosted by Norway’s central bank. PHOTO: Nils S Aasheim/Norges Bank

“If this isn’t the ultimate happiness, I don’t know what is,” said Bergen’s former mayor, Trude Drevland, who was a guest at the wedding where Borgen officiated. The ceremony and celebration, performed at Thon’s own Bristol Hotel in Oslo late last month, attracted several other top politicians and celebrities from Norway’s business and entertainment world.

Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported that around 250 relatives, friends and colleagues turned out for the occasion, at which Thon wore his characteristic red wool cap even though it was midsummer. He’s known for an almost spartan lifestyle despite his fortune that has long made him one of Norway’s wealthiest men.

With no direct heirs, Thon has already transferred his fortune to a foundation, the Olav Thon Stiftelsen, that aims to support research in science and mathematics for the benefit of the public. Thon has also been a major donor to Norway’s national mountain trekking and outdoors organization DNT.

Thon’s bride was born and reared in Oslo, while Thon originally came from a farm in the mountain valley of Hallingdal. Haga, educated as a lawyer, started her career in the justice ministry and eventually became a judge in Drammen and later in the Oslo County Court, until her retirement in 2010.

Both Haga and Thon are known for continuing to work long beyond retirement age, with both still active in the business and the foundation. They spent 35 years living together as samboer before they decided to “formalize” their relationship. Their actual honeymoon was spent “at the office,” according to Haga, but she told newspaper Aftenposten that the couple also planned to spend time this summer in the mountains and along the coast.

“Then we happily pack our two-person tent and find a place to camp,” the bride now known as Sissel Berdal Haga Thon told Aftenposten. She said they had a “secret” site in the mountains around Bodø in Northern Norway for several years, and seldom travel abroad.

“We both love the simple life,” she said. “Even though Olav and I have money, we don’t like spending it on ourselves. We’ve never felt a need for boats, private jets or huge homes. What would we do with that?” Berglund



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