Monica
💫 Summary
The video discusses the mysterious disappearance of Michael Rockefeller, a member of the Rockefeller family, who vanished in 1961 while on a trip to New Guinea and is believed to have been killed and eaten by cannibals. Various theories and investigations surrounding his disappearance are explored.
✨ Highlights📊 Transcript
This section discusses the mysterious disappearance of Michael Rockefeller and the theories surrounding his fate.
00:00
Michael Rockefeller, a member of the Rockefeller family, went missing while on missionary work or peace corps.
There are three theories about his fate: drowning, intentionally leaving his privileged upbringing, or being killed and eaten by cannibals.
It is difficult to prove any of the theories due to lack of evidence.
This section discusses the rituals and practices of a tribe, including cannibalism, urine drinking, and same-sex relations, which led to the interference of Catholic missionaries.
09:48
The tribe believed in avenging or appeasing the spirits of the sick through rituals, including cannibalism.
Rituals also involved drinking each other's urine and engaging in same-sex relations.
Catholic missionaries interfered with the tribe's practices, particularly their same-sex relations.
The tribe also had a tradition of carving phallic-looking poles as tributes for deceased members.
The video discusses the theories surrounding the disappearance of Michael Rockefeller, discounting the theory of drowning and exploring the possibility of him being eaten by a shark or crocodile.
19:39
Michael Rockefeller's official cause of death was drowning, but he was in good shape and had flotation devices.
His journey coincided with the tide coming in, which would have helped him towards shore.
A search effort was conducted, but if he had drowned and still had the flotation devices, he would have been spotted.
The video explores the possibility of Michael being eaten by a shark or crocodile, although sharks in rivers are uncommon.
The Dutch government covered up the fact that Michael Rockefeller was killed by cannibals to hide their failure in civilizing the Asmat people.
29:28
The government wanted to maintain the appearance of running a tight ship in their last Eastern colony.
The priest was warned not to inform Michael's family about the incident, but the story eventually leaked out.
Wim van der Waal, tasked with another investigation, confirmed the story and even saw remains of a skull showing signs of ceremonial brain eating.
However, due to the Netherlands losing control of West New Guinea to Indonesia, the report was never filed and the fate of the bones is unknown.
A journalist investigates the disappearance of Michael Rockefeller and finds footage showing a non-Asmat man among the Asmat warriors, possibly being Rockefeller himself.
34:24
Journalist Milt Maclin investigates the disappearance of Michael Rockefeller after hearing rumors of him possibly being alive.
Maclin talks to the same priest that Hoffman did and leaves with the impression that Rockefeller died.
Maclin sends a National Geographic photographer to the Asmat region to take footage, which is later examined in 2007.
In the footage, a non-Asmat man with light skin, brownish hair, and a beard is seen among the Asmat warriors, resembling Rockefeller.
00:00hello everybody welcome back to a brand
00:01new episode of decoding the unknown this
00:03one's all about one to michael
00:04rockefeller i have a vague inclination i
00:06know in fact i might have suggested this
00:08video to katie i suggest these so far in
00:10advance and just come up with random
00:11ideas i'm not sure if i if i did in
00:13casey i'm sorry for taking the credit
00:14there isn't michael rockefeller as in
00:16the rockefeller family and i feel like
00:18at some point he went off to do some
00:20like missionary work or something with
00:22the peace corps
00:23and then he ended up getting eaten or
00:24something am i imagining that i feel
00:26like that's the crazy story here uh if
00:28you're new to the show welcome welcome
00:30uh this is a uh podcast where anna and a
00:33youtube show hello youtube folk uh
00:36where
00:37i will get a script this one written by
00:39katie as i mentioned it's about michael
00:41rockefeller i'm gonna read it let's get
00:43on with it
00:44[Music]
00:48a rich white kid well there we go now we
00:50know it's rockefeller michael
00:51rockefeller a remote tribe years of
00:55simmering colonial tensions what could
00:57possibly go wrong that's the question
00:59we're looking into today as we explore
01:00the unknown fate of michael rockefeller
01:02art we are missing in what is now
01:04western new guinea in november 1961 no
01:07trace of him was ever found some say he
01:09drowned some say he intentionally turned
01:11his back on his privileged upbringing
01:13and some say that he was killed and
01:15eaten by cannibals
01:17let's decode yeah that's the last one
01:19i've definitely heard of um that he was
01:21eaten i get the feeling this is one of
01:23those ones where there's just not going
01:24to be a ton of evidence either way
01:26because in that introduction it's like
01:28there are three theories and these are
01:30my canon ones it's gonna be really hard
01:32to prove because they've never found
01:33them again unless they finally is chewed
01:35on bones that they dna test
01:38well i don't know it just doesn't seem
01:39very likely no we'll ever get an answer
01:42who is michael rockefeller
01:44hang on do you mean rockefeller like the
01:47extremely rich rockefellers well yes i
01:50do even if you don't know anything about
01:51the family you'll have heard the name
01:52rockefeller center is one of the most
01:54well-known landmarks in new york city
01:56where they put a giant christmas tree
01:57every year the tv show 30 rock is so
01:59cold because it's set in 30 rockefeller
02:01plaza i don't know i've not seen that tv
02:03show i assumed i thought it had
02:05something to do with them
02:06being the age of 30. but that's what
02:08happens when you talk about a tv show
02:10that you've never seen
02:12isn't it simon where saturday night live
02:14msnbc shows like the tonight show with
02:16jimmy fallon raw currently film jean-d
02:18rockefeller was the world's first
02:19billionaire due to his monopoly on the
02:21us oil industry in the in the 1870s and
02:241880s it's a name that's synonymous with
02:26huge wealth and while big daddy john d
02:29did give most of his wealth away his
02:31descendants are still filthy rich by any
02:33standard of course automatically
02:35positions of influence and power that's
02:37such a crazy thing he was he made his
02:39money in the 1870s
02:42it's like 150 years ago he gave most of
02:45it away to charity and still
02:47what was this 1960s
02:50i assume the rockefellers are still rich
02:52today
02:53even 150 years later they're still rich
02:55off that which is
02:57mad michael rockefeller was born in 1938
03:00as the great grandson of john d
03:01rockefeller michael's father was nelson
03:03rockefeller the governor of new york at
03:05the time
03:06this story unfolds he later went on to
03:08become vice president of the united
03:09states for three years under gerald ford
03:11nelson was big into art which is an easy
03:13hobby to have if you're wealthy
03:15it's like a default rich person or
03:17activity isn't it like yachting
03:20what do you do yachts golf and
03:22collecting art somebody's rich and in
03:251957 he hosted an event for the public
03:27opening his latest venture the museum of
03:30primitive art the exhibits include the
03:32things like carved paddles from easter
03:34island and minestone figures
03:37i know
03:38kate is about to comment on the word
03:39primitive being used i know the word
03:41primitive smacks a condescension and has
03:43noble savage vibes but these artifacts
03:46were displayed as works of art bringing
03:47unfamiliar but no less impressive items
03:50to western your audiences it was also
03:52the 1950s
03:54and i don't want to say that they were
03:56right in using that words but it was the
03:58past we all know it's the worst there
04:00was tons of other horrible shits going
04:02on in the 1950s that would be like like
04:04calling people primitive don't get me
04:06wrong it's obviously bad but in 1950s
04:08america weren't black people still
04:10having to use a different toilet which
04:12is insane
04:14there were
04:16plenty of problems young michael
04:17rockefeller fell in love with the
04:19concept of exploring little-known
04:20cultures and bringing examples of their
04:22art back to the states an intelligent
04:25fellow he graduated from harvard with a
04:26degree in history and economics and was
04:28a season travel having been to japan and
04:31he also worked for a summer in venezuela
04:33albeit on the rockefeller family ranch
04:36oh my god they just have a random ranch
04:37in venezuela
04:39it's another rich person [ __ ] isn't it
04:41while he was predominantly expected to
04:43join the family firm michael seemed to
04:45be more of a free spirit and in 1961 he
04:47went to work on a documentary that was
04:49released a couple of years later under
04:50the title dead birds it's currently a
04:52respectable 7.1 on imdb and michael
04:55rockefeller is credited as the sound
04:56recordist in this documentary the crew i
04:58have to say i was like had to reread
05:00that i was like wait he's just the sound
05:02recorder and it's like yeah he went to
05:03get a regular i was like he's super rich
05:05isn't he just like paying people to make
05:06a documentary like isn't that what rich
05:08people do and he's like no he just he
05:10went to get a job on this uh movie which
05:12is cool respect in this documentary crew
05:14filmed the danny tribe of west papua and
05:17rockefeller took a detour during filming
05:19to visit another tribe called the azmat
05:22following his experience with the people
05:23the landscape and their artwork he
05:25determined to run a proper expedition
05:27later in 1961 to learn more about the
05:29azmet and hopefully accrue some more
05:31pieces for his father's museum of
05:33primitive art it was on this trip the
05:35michael rockefeller vanished never to be
05:37seen or heard from again thanks for
05:40being a rockefeller michael was already
05:41on the board of directors for his dad's
05:43museum which if you don't count the
05:44nepotism was a pretty impressive feat by
05:46the age of 23. yeah that's like saying
05:49wow it's really impressive you're king
05:51by the age of eight and it's like
05:52literally the only reason is because you
05:54were born into a certain family and then
05:55your dad died when you were young that's
05:57it it's not impressive in any way while
05:59i graduated from university by that age
06:01i wasn't on the board of anything
06:02although i'd actually got married which
06:04is a pretty big life achievement also i
06:06made it past the age of 23 which doesn't
06:08seem to be the case before michael so
06:09he's the real success story here well
06:11he's not a success story i mean i don't
06:14think people who are born into wealth
06:15and then do like he hasn't done anything
06:17on his own he just got born into money
06:20and then the only job we've so far known
06:22that he actually got as you know a real
06:24job not being bought on the board of his
06:26dad news dad's museum that doesn't count
06:27is he was a sound recordist on a
06:29documentary and he went to harvard which
06:31is impressive but plenty of people do
06:32that all the time so i don't think he's
06:34really had that many life achievements
06:36probably still him i disagree casey i
06:38totally disagree i don't think he's done
06:40anything particularly impressive to be
06:42honest anyway let's talk about his final
06:44expedition and the reasons he went
06:47the asmat
06:48first a bit of a background on the
06:49azimat people they live in the western
06:51half of new guinea which is known as
06:52west papua and indonesian new guinea
06:55okay it was formerly known as
06:58netherlands or dutch new guinea which
07:00might give you a clue as to where the
07:01colonial tensions came into play
07:03whatever you want to call it the azmat
07:05people live in an area of just under 10
07:07000 square miles or around 25 000 square
07:09kilometers on the coast of the arafura
07:12sea i'm terrible imagining sizes like i
07:1510 000 square miles
07:16to me could literally be the size
07:19someone could tell me that's the size of
07:20the uk and i'll be like okay someone
07:23could tell me it was the size of ireland
07:25and i'll be like okay i i mean i don't
07:28know let's see how wildly wrong i am
07:31how big is the uk in square miles
07:33why why when i search how big is the uk
07:36in square miles is the top answer the uk
07:39is 242 000 square kilometers why would
07:41you do that to me what's going on google
07:44you're supposed to be better than this
07:45okay it's a hundred thousand square
07:47miles basically so i was um
07:49i was wrong by a factor of ten so there
07:51we go they lived in there about a tenth
07:53of the size of the uk you're welcome on
07:55the coast of the arafra sea their
07:57territory contains mangrove swamps
07:59mountains rivers and thick forests with
08:01their dwellings generally built at least
08:03two meters off the ground at the time of
08:06rockefeller's disappearance the azmat
08:08hadn't had all that much contact with
08:09the rest of the world in the past they
08:10were occasionally cited by explorers
08:12including captain james cook but they
08:14always managed to get shot at the pesky
08:16visitors before any exploration could be
08:18done probably not a sign that they want
08:19visitors then it's like if you went up
08:21to someone's house rang on the front
08:23door and they shot a shotgun through the
08:26door and just missed you you'd be like
08:28probably not super welcoming and then
08:30some rich guys like i'm gonna go knock
08:31on that door i guess they gave you money
08:33but not brains in america i feel like
08:35you could just wasn't there something
08:36where it's like legacy admissions i was
08:38reading about this and it blew my mind
08:40the if your dad or mom went to like one
08:42of these big universities they take that
08:44into account in your admission and i'm
08:46like holy sh
08:48that's like mega nepotism nepotistic for
08:50historically convoluted reasons that i
08:52waste too much time looking up the dutch
08:54had laid claim to the western half of
08:56the island of new guinea in 1828 but
08:58didn't really do anything with it until
08:59the early 20th century this might have
09:01something to do with the cultural
09:02practices of the asmat themselves
09:05according to writer karl hoffmann will
09:06crop up again later the asmats literally
09:09lived in their own world separated from
09:10other influences and were huge believers
09:13in spirits is it bad that when i read
09:16influences i'm like influencers all
09:18right wait what's influences oh you
09:20spent too much time on the internet
09:22simon everything had a spirit inside it
09:24the trees the water every part of a
09:26person yeah i often think that it's like
09:29i've got a penis spirit
09:31sorry i don't know why i said that i
09:32just when there's a spirit
09:34part of every part of your body it's
09:36just immediately what comes to mind
09:37isn't it
09:38that's the spirit they were and are
09:40people fighting a constant battle
09:42between life and death trying to trick
09:44and placate the spirits in equal measure
09:46if anyone died for any reason even
09:48sickness their spirit had to be avenged
09:50or appeased by a series of rituals which
09:52sometimes included the hunting killing
09:54and yes cannibalizing of another person
09:56sounds like these guys are really busy
09:58it's a pointless i think you know with
09:59religion it's like you've got to spend
10:00an hour and week in church oh my god
10:02you're wasting time just doing pointless
10:04and then this is like oh my god he died
10:07of the flu we've got to perform all
10:08these days-long rituals no wonder
10:10nothing ever gets done i mean i don't
10:12know if anything gets done maybe they
10:13get a lot done i don't know why maybe
10:16just seems unlikely with all this spirit
10:17worship in some other rituals they drank
10:19each other's pee and men had sex with
10:21other men so you can see why catholic
10:23missionaries were either just stick
10:25their beaks in in the 1950s yeah that's
10:28the problem with the world
10:29the african
10:30tribe with men having sex with men
10:33that's the problem catholic church you
10:34go fix that nothing going on in the
10:35catholic church that needs fixing
10:37nothing at all it's completely perfect
10:39especially when it comes to men having
10:41sex with other men right catholic church
10:43right
10:43also central to parts of the asthma
10:46culture is what's known as the abyss or
10:48bishpole i think it's pronounced bish or
10:51beej okay
10:52artistically in spring just taking a
10:54guess there i think yeah well i think
10:56it's pronounced byes i don't know maybe
10:58katie looked it up she probably did
11:00artistically and spiritually important
11:02these poles are carved out of a single
11:03piece of mangrove tree it can be over 20
11:05feet or six meters long or high i guess
11:08they are used in asthma rituals as
11:10tributes for deceased tribe members and
11:11to close the circle of life and death
11:13the deceased's name sorry it may be
11:15diseased is carved into the pole to keep
11:18the memory of them alive usually pretty
11:20phallic looking the poles are
11:22intricately carved and depict men
11:24stacked on top of each other phallic
11:25looking they got that penis spirit in
11:27them animals and other things like
11:29canoes
11:30what oh they're carved on there okay a
11:32top is another carving sprouting out of
11:34a man's groin area oh my which can kind
11:37of look like a delicate wing but also
11:40well a big old you-know-what penis these
11:43poles are intrinsically linked with
11:46azmat life to quote carl hoffman in a
11:48piece for the smithsonian magazine the
11:50completion of a beast pole usually
11:51unleashed a new round of raids revenge
11:54was taken and balance restored new heads
11:56obtained new seeds to nourish the growth
11:59of boys into men and the blood of the
12:00victims rubbed into the pole oh my god
12:04sorry that wasn't a quote from uh what
12:05was his face old hoffman here that was
12:07me commenting the quote continues the
12:10spirit of the pole was made complete the
12:12villagers then engaged in sex and the
12:14poles were left to rot in the sago
12:15fields fertilizing the sago and
12:18completing the cycle like a rockefeller
12:20you just gotta go check this out within
12:22the asthma territory of the 50s and 60s
12:24there were several different villages
12:25each rivals but connected by marriage
12:28each village was led by a head man and
12:31they were seemingly not adverse to
12:33shedding blood in 1957 five men from the
12:36village
12:37oh my lord that is a that is a otzyanep
12:41maybe were killed by the rival village
12:43of amardasep in retaliation the warriors
12:46of amardasep went on the offensive with
12:49over a hundred people dying in the
12:50ensuing clash when word of this violence
12:52got back to the dutch government
12:53controller of the region max leprey set
12:56out to shut down this nonsense the dutch
12:58governor aha he's going to go fix all
13:00these tribal problems that sounds like
13:02something he's absolutely capable of he
13:04headed to ahmad seb in 1958 and
13:06basically trashed the place setting fire
13:07to a communal building and canoes and
13:09confiscating weapons yeah that's the way
13:11to get everyone to agree how are we
13:12gonna get peace the minis just blow it
13:14all up
13:16oh my god
13:17what is wrong what is wrong with this
13:19guy and he confiscated weapons the
13:21policeman he sent to the other village
13:23of otzyarnip did not fare so well with
13:25the villagers they rejected the dutch
13:26flag and threatened the police with
13:28violence good finally in february 1958
13:30lepre with some police headed to ot
13:32jarnet to tell them to quit it on the
13:35whole head-hunting and cannibalism thing
13:36unfortunately due to feeling threatened
13:38and totally out of his element leper and
13:40the police ended up firing guns at the
13:42asmat leaving five people dead and the
13:44entire population in a state of flux
13:45about what was happening and it wasn't
13:47just five people dead four of them were
13:49the most important men in the village
13:50which totaled over a thousand people at
13:52the time this was an unprecedented event
13:54how could the asshmat appease these
13:55spirits when it was a total outsider a
13:57foreigner a white man who had committed
13:59the murders so it was into this still
14:01shock society that lived in perpetually
14:04vivid cycles of life sex and death young
14:07michael rockefeller ventured in 1961.
14:10what are you up to mike no michael
14:13michael rockefeller's last voyage with
14:16that setup the only thing about it's
14:18just this is not surprising in any way
14:20for his trip to acquire it couldn't he
14:22have at least phoned the netherlands and
14:23be like oh hello there i'm michael
14:25rockefeller jolly good pit pip i don't
14:27know why he's posh british but i don't
14:29know how posh american people speak and
14:30he's like yo how's it going down there
14:33you guys all right safe to visit and
14:34they'd be like good lord no we just shot
14:37them with guns and they're pissed for
14:39his trip to acquire a brand new
14:41collection of art for his father's
14:42museum michael just do it like other
14:44rich people just go to sophobees and bid
14:46on the art let someone else go down
14:48there and guess it your granddad your
14:50great-grandpappy would be like michael
14:52what are you doing why do you think i
14:54earned all this money so other people
14:55can go collect the art from the
14:56dangerous people what are you doing mike
14:58a rockefeller traveled with renee
15:00wassing an anthropologist familiar with
15:01the azimat people and also two local
15:04asmat teens watching it doesn't seem
15:06like you need them well enough does it
15:07over the course of a few weeks michael
15:08bartered and traded for local wares such
15:10as bowls and decorated shields but it
15:13was the bish bowls which he was really
15:14after he managed to get someone whose
15:16initial visit to the azimut earlier in
15:18the year and wanted to get as many as he
15:20could after
15:21michael rockefeller's him in the british
15:23museum could be friends after having
15:25restocked their supplies this morning i
15:27saw someone who was a great meme once
15:28whether someone got blocked by the
15:30british museum
15:31because they posted a picture
15:33of like them opening a backpack you know
15:36one of those you know when you do one of
15:37those photos where it's you like in the
15:40salt plains and you've got like the
15:41people in the palm of your hands because
15:43of the perspective difference and it's
15:45these two kids and they got like a
15:46backpack and they've got it open and in
15:48the background the tower of pisa it
15:50looks like they're shoving the tower of
15:52pisa into a backpack and they're like
15:55hey british museum look what you found
15:57the next tweet is you've been blocked by
16:00the british museum and i'm like yep it's
16:02true
16:04and what's that other great joke the
16:05only reason the pyramids aren't in the
16:06british museum museums because they
16:07wouldn't fit
16:09what are you up to i did a video on my
16:10other channel called mega projects it
16:12was a british museum a collection of
16:14other people's stuff
16:16oh my god okay sorry let's get it
16:18together we're doing a video about
16:19michael rockefeller doing his own little
16:21british museum adventure
16:23i'm going to get blocked by the british
16:24museum i know it's an amazing museum i'm
16:26no longer going to be welcomed back but
16:28it is other people's stuff isn't it
16:30offshoring restocked their supplies the
16:31small party set out again in their
16:33catamaran on november 17 1961. it was
16:36while they were trying to cross the
16:37mouth of a wide river but wind and cross
16:40currents swamped their boat's motor and
16:42then tipped the catman over rockefeller
16:45singh stayed with the boat as the asmat
16:47teenagers swam back for help the shore
16:49was visible but it was several miles
16:51away rockefeller and wassing spent all
16:53night and the next day clinging to the
16:55overturned catamaran waiting for rescue
16:57but rockefeller was worried that they'd
16:59be carried further out to sea on the
17:00morning of the 19th the strip to his
17:02underwear tied a couple of empty jerry
17:04cans around his waist as makeshift
17:06floats and then struck out for the
17:07distant shore his last known words were
17:10i think i can make it batting was
17:12spotted from a plane or helicopter later
17:14that day and was picked up the following
17:15morning michael rockefeller was never
17:17seen again
17:18wait who was flying the helicopter
17:20because that's where michael
17:21rockefeller's time or rockefeller family
17:23dime the helicopter comes out it's like
17:25okay okay we see him go down and get him
17:27and then they're picking wasser up and
17:29there's clearly one seat on the
17:30helicopter i'm making this up obviously
17:31and uh there's clearly just one seat on
17:33the helicopter it flies down
17:35and they're like michael thank god we
17:37got you and weiss just looks around and
17:39they're like yeah thank god
17:41let's get back to new york and they get
17:44back it's like this is a michael
17:45rockefeller you dick oh wasser legend
17:48the asmr teenagers have made it back to
17:50shore and trudged for miles through the
17:52mud to raise the alarm which is why it
17:54took so long for any rescue attempt to
17:55get started michael's father nelson and
17:57his twin sister mary flew western new
17:59guinea with a plane load of reporters
18:01generating headlines such as governor's
18:02son missing off the coast of new guinea
18:04and later as no trace was found and hope
18:06was dwindling jungle hunt last hope for
18:09rockefeller's son eventually his family
18:11flew back to new york on the 28th of
18:13november and two weeks later the search
18:14was officially cooled off michael
18:16rockefeller was legally declared dead in
18:181964 with the cause of death given as
18:20drowning well you just had a guess
18:23seems like can't you just be like he's
18:24dead because he hasn't come out of the
18:26jungle it's been years we don't know why
18:28we're just assuming or do you really
18:29have to have something for the death
18:30certificate i feel like a short
18:32explanation went to the jungle tried to
18:34get some big polls or some [ __ ] like
18:36that never seen again probably dead
18:37perhaps eaten stop
18:40seems an open a shot case right well
18:43heck no
18:44rumors have long swirled that the junior
18:47rockefeller met a far more grisly death
18:49at the hands of the ray people he was so
18:51enamored with and karl hoffmann all but
18:52proved it in the research for his 2014
18:55book savage harvest whoa all but proved
18:58it okay
19:00i was saying at the beginning there's no
19:01way like how are you possibly gonna
19:03prove this unless you guys chewed upon
19:04bones is it okay to talk about him like
19:06this if this was a much more recent
19:08thing i'd be more sensitive but this was
19:10like 50 years ago he didn't have any
19:12kids anyone who really knew him is
19:15probably probably dead right i mean it
19:17could be like someone's uncle but they
19:19couldn't have known him very well they'd
19:21be like young i think it's okay i think
19:24i'm not making fun of him i mean i am a
19:26little bit because he it does seem like
19:27they have an idiotic thing to do i'm not
19:29apologizing this is what i'm saying but
19:31we'll come unless unless i get cancelled
19:33then i have to make an apology video i
19:34mean i won't have to but i probably
19:36won't okay why am i on somebody i'm
19:39apologize i don't know why i'm on so
19:40many tangents it's like quarter eight on
19:42a monday morning you know normally i'd
19:43be tired but i'm feeling good kid got up
19:45at five this morning which was brilliant
19:49[Music]
19:50thanks we'll come to that in a moment
19:53let's just discount the other theories
19:55first before putting all of our weight
19:56behind this one
19:57the theories he drowned
19:59first things first rockefeller's
20:02official cause of death was given as
20:03drowning this seems a reasonable
20:05assumption he was probably quite tired
20:07it was several miles to shore he may
20:08have swum into the same cross currents
20:10that upset the boat etc except he was in
20:13good shape and he wasn't injured he had
20:15some flotation devices those empty
20:17containers were buoyancy people smarter
20:18than i have already worked out that when
20:20he left the boat at around 8am his
20:22journey would have concided with the
20:23tide coming in this is incredible
20:25research i mean is it is it i'm like
20:28sometimes i think i'm really dim because
20:29i'm like wow they found out when the
20:32tide came in in 1964 and yeah probably
20:34because the same
20:35tide is working the same way today it's
20:38not that complicated his journey would
20:40have coincided with the time coming and
20:42therefore helping him towards sure also
20:44there was by now a fevered search effort
20:46going on helicopters planes and ships
20:48were scouring the waters with locals and
20:50police searching the swamps and
20:51coastline if he had drowned or perished
20:53in the water but still had the floating
20:55cans on him chances are he would have
20:56been spotted so did something else get
20:59to him first he was eaten by a shark or
21:02a crocodile a shark in like a river
21:05does sharks live in the sea they
21:07definitely live in the sea do they also
21:10live in rivers i guess is the big
21:11question i don't think so i've never
21:12been in a river
21:14gotta watch out for those sharky sharks
21:16could michael have been intercepted on
21:17route to shore by a savage sea creature
21:20there were sharks around but they were
21:21not known for attacking people so it
21:23would have been ridiculous yes
21:24apparently they are so been ridiculously
21:26unlucky encounter of indeed that's how
21:28he met his fate wait was he on a river i
21:30don't know him wait was he a c
21:33somehow in my mind he was on a river
21:34this whole time oh no he's probably at c
21:37was oh simon you're so dumb just carry
21:39on jesus and tides probably more effect
21:42c than they i know they affect rivers
21:43but it's probably less so oh my god why
21:45was i i just cause i guess i'm imagining
21:47him in the amazon even though he's not
21:49in the amazon i guess i don't know this
21:51is because how these adventure movies
21:52work adventure movies ruined my mind and
21:54also provided days of entertainment so
21:56it would have been a ridiculously
21:57unlucky encounter if that is even how he
21:59met his fate what oh the shark attack
22:01okay and i don't know how much of a body
22:03a shark would eat but it's not going to
22:05be absolutely everything so surely a
22:07trace or two would have washed up
22:08eventually i don't know what case is
22:10implied there the shark wouldn't eat
22:12absolutely everything
22:13but people would grind his bones to make
22:15their bread if he was attacked by an
22:17animal the crocodile is far more likely
22:19culprit they're pretty common in the
22:21asmat region and often featured on
22:23carvings on the bish poles showing that
22:26if they weren't the cause of death the
22:27asmat people at least thought of them as
22:29worthy opponents these are the big ones
22:31too the saltwater crocodile is the
22:33largest species of croc that has a
22:35reputation as a man-eater they will
22:37attack and kill humans and sometimes
22:38also store larger animals they kills
22:40they can come back and feed off the
22:41bodies later
22:42lovely i guess it's possible the michael
22:44rockefeller was killed and hidden away
22:45by a crocodile but again as the search
22:47party was already out in force at this
22:49point it seems unlikely that his body
22:52could have remained hidden all this time
22:53the azmat while still a remote driver
22:55more than used to visitors nowadays so
22:57would have no reason to hide the remains
22:59of a stranger's body should one have
23:01ever popped up in the last few decades
23:03unless that is
23:04they have a secret to hides
23:06oh i feel like they you know because
23:09that guy proved it i'm i'm skeptical
23:12about how he could prove it though i'm
23:13quite interested to see how that's
23:15possible
23:16he was killed and eaten by the ass man
23:17you may have thought the beginning of
23:18this story if i was joking about the
23:20cannibals part oh no i wasn't i was not
23:22i was i don't i did never think that i
23:24know there are those cannibal tribes and
23:26there was one that got this disease i
23:28made a video about this called kuru
23:30which was basically because they always
23:32ate the dead they were getting this it's
23:34a really crazy disease caused by um
23:37prions which are terrifying made a video
23:40about that oh my god i made so many
23:41videos but i did a video on into the
23:43shadows and a youtube channel i do about
23:45prions and they are this like
23:48scary disease and basically you can cat
23:51you can get a prion which is a
23:52misfolding protein by eating
23:54uh prion and eating the prions in the
23:56brain particularly and it was this thing
23:59that was killing them and so this tribe
24:00were all dying of this kuru disease
24:02because they kept eating each other when
24:03they died
24:04and
24:05why am i telling this story oh yeah the
24:07cannibals but if you want to learn more
24:09about that i don't know what the video
24:10was called check out that prions video
24:12on into the shadows
24:13it's terrifying
24:15well i wasn't in fact as time has passed
24:17this seems to have been the most likely
24:19theory of them all in his book savage
24:21harvest which is a great name for a book
24:22by the way and also if anyone's
24:24incentive it sounds like you are carl
24:27god damn
24:28it's a book about a guy who gets eaten
24:30by cannibals a factual book what's it
24:31called savage harvest why because the
24:34savages which is also inappropriate 2014
24:38carl and they harvested his flesh good
24:40lord can't but i mean it's probably a
24:42title that's going to sell books isn't
24:43it carl hoffman went deep into asmat
24:45territory and learned all kinds of
24:47things that seemingly point to this
24:48horrible outcome dude oh
24:51my we'll explore his findings i kind of
24:53want to read savage harvest
24:56terrible dark book i mean not terrible
24:58terribly dark it sounds like i want to
25:00read it we'll explore his findings but
25:02just bear in mind that he is really the
25:04only source we have for this story so
25:05while it's very compelling there's no
25:06way to really fact check him nobody's
25:08gone and spent months trying to disprove
25:10this theory so let's just take him at
25:12his word for now according to hoffman
25:14michael did make it to shore after he
25:16left the overturned catamaran
25:18unfortunately for him however the first
25:19group of people he saw was a canoe load
25:21of people from the otsjanet village if
25:23you recall it was this village who had
25:25lost five men to governor lepro's gun
25:28three years earlier and these men
25:29spirits were still not at rest even
25:31though michael rockefeller was actually
25:32known to some of the men in the canoe
25:33when he reached out one of them stabbed
25:35him in the chest he didn't die at once
25:37but was taken to a more hidden location
25:38where he was killed cannibalized and his
25:40bones were later used
25:42as spears and daggers the skull was
25:44apparently hanging one of the killer's
25:46houses but how did hoffman find this out
25:48well for one michael's name was brought
25:50up totally out of the blue he'd been
25:51hanging out with people in the asmat
25:53region for a couple of weeks extensive
25:54this guy is brave
25:56it's like dude
25:58you're going there to find out whether
25:59they ate someone does that not rig of
26:01like well i hope they don't eat me he
26:03was ostensibly finding out about their
26:04history and culture when he mentioned
26:06the shootings of lepre the atmosphere
26:08instantly change and now you're
26:09reminding them of this my dude
26:13why are you living dangerously son the
26:15atmosphere instantly changed everyone
26:16started getting really antsy when
26:18hoffman asked what he was going on his
26:19guide told him that everyone was afraid
26:21because of the american tourists who had
26:23died there 50 years before even though
26:25hoffman had never mentioned he was
26:26really trying to find out about
26:27rockefeller's fate and had never even
26:28said his name his guide confirmed that
26:30the villagers were afraid because people
26:32from oziana had killed him and everyone
26:35knows it in itself this doesn't really
26:37prove anything so let's go a little
26:39deeper for reasons that don't make much
26:41sense to me the dutch was sending
26:42catholic priests to convert the asma
26:44people over the 20th century ostensibly
26:46they were trying to get them to lay off
26:48the more violent aspects of their lives
26:49such as the headhunting and cannibalism
26:51which i suppose is a good call but just
26:52leave their spiritual beliefs out of it
26:54why don't you anyway carl hoffman
26:56managed to track down one of these
26:57priests in 2012 for his book the priest
26:59tubertus von bay love the name hubertus
27:01by the way i've never heard it before
27:03i've heard the name hubertus i like it i
27:05mean i'd never ever ever ever call my
27:07kid hubertus but uh i like it confirmed
27:10to hoffman that a month after michael
27:12rockefeller had gone missing four asmen
27:14came to see him eventually they
27:16confirmed that rockefeller had been in
27:18the water and after some dispute among
27:20the group about who had found him one of
27:22the men ended up stabbing him with a
27:23spear von pay asked for more information
27:26and they described the weird shorts he
27:28was wearing that they weren't familiar
27:29with i.e his underwear
27:32for some reason in my mind i just
27:33imagined him wearing like board shorts
27:35you know they're brightly colored down
27:37to the knees but obviously that wasn't
27:39what he was wearing they also confirmed
27:40that he'd been wearing glasses and in
27:42all a total of 15 men were now in
27:44possession of various bones and other
27:46such items like the glasses when asked
27:48why they'd killed rockefeller the group
27:49explained that they had done it in
27:50retaliation for the shooting carried out
27:52by lepre in 1958 von pay met up with
27:55another priest who was originally
27:56supposed to rendezvous with michael
27:58before his disappearance this man
27:59cornelius van kessel another outstanding
28:02name and also again cornelius great name
28:05i'd never call my kid cornelius i mean
28:07i'd definitely call him if someone said
28:08you gotta call your kid hubertus or
28:11cornelius i'll choose cornelius but
28:14still i wouldn't and i'm sorry to all
28:15the hubertuses and corneliuses out there
28:18it just feels a bit old and dated
28:19doesn't it or maybe i mean these are
28:21dutch guys so maybe cornelius is super
28:23popular in the netherlands maybe they're
28:25all like you know cornelius is like
28:27they're john
28:29it's probably not is it he'd also had
28:30rumors about michael's fate floating
28:32around he carried out his own
28:33investigation and ended up writing both
28:35men's findings to the dutch controller
28:38of the asmat region he gave a
28:40comprehensive account of what he
28:42believed had happened including the
28:43names of the azmat involved hoffman's
28:46hoffman quotes van kessel's report as
28:48follows after my conversation with
28:49father von page the one percent of doubt
28:52i had has been taken by the very
28:54detailed data which matched my data and
28:57inspections all caps it is certain that
29:00michael rockefeller was murdered and
29:01eaten by ozyanep this was revenge for
29:05the shooting four years ago that really
29:06is in all caps it just feels unnecessary
29:09you don't need to shout this
29:11this information was duly forwarded to
29:12the dutch minister of the interior
29:14hoffman had an investigator searched
29:16through the government's archives but
29:18only part of the correspondence was
29:20found it's pretty telling though hoffman
29:22quotes this government memo as in my
29:25opinion some reservations need to be
29:26made no evidence has been found yet and
29:28therefore there is no certainty yet in
29:30this connection it doesn't seem germane
29:32to me to give information to the press
29:35or archipelago at this time so basically
29:37the guards government is covering the
29:38whole michael rockefeller was killed by
29:40an eaton by cannibals thing up but why
29:41well it was really to hide the fact that
29:42maybe they weren't doing such a great
29:44job quote-unquote civilizing the asmat
29:46people also it seems like you're kind of
29:48responsible for his death because you
29:50went there and shot five of them and
29:52then they killed someone else and it's
29:54like that's probably another reason for
29:55the cover-up this was the netherlands
29:57last eastern colony so they wanted to
29:58keep up appearances of running a tight
30:00ship yeah good job colonists also it was
30:03quite embarrassing that just a couple of
30:04weeks after they closed their
30:05investigation people had already started
30:07telling a completely different story if
30:09you're wondering why the priest didn't
30:11go straight to michael's family with
30:12their bindings they were warned not to
30:14but the story ended up just trickling
30:16out anyway nelson rockefeller got in
30:18touch with the dutch embassy in the u.s
30:19according to hoffman's article joseph
30:21lunz the minister of foreign affairs
30:23himself responded the rumors had been
30:25thoroughly investigated he said and
30:27there was nothing to them so that was
30:29that as far as everyone in the dutch
30:30government was concerned right they
30:32apparently tabbed wim van der waal which
30:34is a pleasing sounding name in this
30:36video do dutch people just have
30:37brilliant names if lacking the gravitas
30:39robertas or cornelius to carry out
30:42another investigation on the lowdown in
30:44an interview with hoffman in 2003 he
30:46also confirmed the story and had even
30:48seen remains of a skull that showed the
30:50trademark signs of ceremonial brain
30:52eating he passed the remains onto dutch
30:54authorities but unfortunately the timing
30:56coincided with the netherlands losing
30:58control of west new guinea to indonesia
31:00so it was recalled a report was never
31:02filed and i have no idea what happened
31:04to the bones so this does seem like
31:06pretty strong evidence that michael
31:07rockefeller did indeed meet an unlucky
31:09and grim death mate i don't know if we
31:12can describe it as unlucky
31:14other than like
31:16somewhat expected uh we're relying
31:18heavily on carl hoffman's account here
31:20but the people especially the priests
31:22see interviews were all credible
31:23witnesses with corroborating references
31:25popping up in other accounts over the
31:27years as far as i'm aware the bones got
31:29lost or were possibly left in asmat they
31:32definitely were not dna tests or
31:33anything like that which probably wasn't
31:34possible in the early 1960s anyway but
31:36maybe someone could have snagged the
31:37skull since then to do some sort of
31:40reconstruction or something yeah yeah
31:42stealing the skull from the people who
31:43murdered and ate someone sounds like a
31:45brilliant idea
31:47you're dead
31:48you are dead
31:50admittedly i used to watch a lot of csi
31:52oh me too i've seen so much csi grew up
31:54on csi but as the asmata storytellers
31:57with strong familial bonds surely these
31:59bones are still hanging in some people's
32:01houses to this day would it be possible
32:03to get anything out of them i suppose
32:04that because all we really have is word
32:06of mouth confession plasma could just as
32:08easily deny it if anyone tried to
32:10collect any evidence today if you're
32:12still a bit shaky on why this hasn't
32:13been confirmed by the modern day asmat
32:15people it all ties in with their beliefs
32:17after having caught fragments of a
32:19conversation mentioning rockefeller
32:20hoffman had recorded a man basically
32:22warning his fellows not to talk about
32:24this story when translated he was saying
32:26things like don't you tell the story to
32:27any other man or any other village
32:29because this story is only for us don't
32:31speak don't speak and tell the story i
32:33hope you remember it and you must keep
32:35it for us also they value stories
32:37stories are like something they want to
32:40keep and it's there's diminished value
32:42in more people learning your story
32:44that's interesting this is because the
32:45asmr is still very afraid of the
32:47repercussions oh wait okay wait i kind
32:50of took this as they're just like a
32:51secret culture who wants to have stories
32:52for themselves and have their own
32:54mythology and stuff rather than other
32:56tribes knowing it but i guess also
32:58possibly this in their historical record
33:00the events surrounding michael
33:01rockefeller include a foreigner shooting
33:03the head of one of their villages a huge
33:04operation involving helicopters and
33:06things that they'd never seen before
33:08foreign people coming and questioning
33:09them and then a cholera epidemic
33:10breaking out which evolved around so
33:11many people dying though under some sort
33:13of anger and retaliation from other
33:15powers got tied into the story of the
33:17disappearance through the years if the
33:18aznat were responsible they must have
33:21warned future generations never to speak
33:23of it again yeah okay because if you're
33:25like some tribe person living there and
33:27you're like we did this and then the
33:28helicopters come and a cholera outbreak
33:30comes you're like oh my god the spirits
33:32are angry the gods are here and then
33:34you're like let's not mention this again
33:35this theory seems to be prevailing i
33:37mean not that the colonists are gods
33:39obviously just to be extra clear but if
33:41someone if you've never seen a
33:42helicopter before and you're making
33:44spears out of someone's bones and a
33:46helicopter arrives i mean holy sh you
33:48must be like what they have made a bird
33:51the theory seems to be the prevailing
33:54one in rockefeller's story and when i
33:55was researching this i found there's a
33:56short story by christopher stokes called
33:58the man who ate michael rockefeller
34:00which was published in 2007. while this
34:02is a fictional and dramatized account it
34:04still may be coincidentally touches on
34:06the main point of the asmr killing
34:07rockefeller to restore an imbalance
34:10within their ancestors spirits this was
34:12also turned into a play a few years
34:14later of course it was but you may have
34:16noticed that there's still a bit of
34:18script left i have noticed that indeed
34:20okay rather hungry i was like i'm gonna
34:21record this before i have my breakfast
34:23looking forward to my breakfast what
34:24other theories could there be regarding
34:26this disappearance well instead of
34:28ending on the complete downer that this
34:29young man died so horribly let's try and
34:31end on a more upbeat note he joined the
34:34asmat in 1969 milt maclin a journalist
34:37and editor decided to investigate the
34:39story once again after rumors that
34:41rockefeller was possibly still alive had
34:43reached his ears macklin was an editor
34:45for the argosy magazine amongst other
34:47things which popped up in the bermuda
34:49triangle episode and so you can see that
34:51he was interested in some more unusual
34:52stories of life he also apparently
34:54coined the phrase abominable snowman so
34:56kudos to you mill macklin anyway he
34:58headed over to papua and even talked to
35:00the same priest hoffman later did our
35:02friend cornelius van cassel macklin left
35:05with the impression that rockefeller
35:07definitely did die
35:08by azmat hans he wasn't totally done
35:10with this idea though while he couldn't
35:12travel into the asmat region himself
35:14probably a smart guy he sent a national
35:16geographic photographer malcolm kirk to
35:18take some footage for him why couldn't
35:20he travel in there but the photographer
35:21can sas he's just a bit lazy did take
35:24footage of asmat life including a large
35:26full of tiller of asthma warriors rowing
35:28down river on canoes macklin never did
35:30anything with the footage in the end so
35:32it wasn't really examined until 2007
35:34when fraser heston son of charlton
35:36decided to make a documentary based on
35:38macklin's work called unsurprisingly the
35:40search for michael rockefeller he and
35:42his team tracked down kirk's footage and
35:45in the river scenes standing up and
35:46paddling along with all the hundreds of
35:48azimut warriors is a man who is
35:49undoubtedly non-asmat he's light-skinned
35:52he has brownish hair and a discernable
35:54beard which the asmat typically do not
35:56sport in the footage i saw it even kinda
35:58looks a teensy bit like he might be
36:01possibly wearing glasses kirk has no
36:03recollection of seeing this man at the
36:04time he was filming which is
36:06understandable as he was a distance away
36:07on the shore and may not have even been
36:09looking through the camera at the time
36:10he also went back through his notes and
36:12saw reference to an albino man that he
36:14met on his trip but this man is not an
36:16albino asmat he is distinctly caucasian
36:19if you're wondering why they can't just
36:20do facial recognition oh it's going to
36:21be like old and super grainy if katie
36:23can barely see if he's wearing glasses
36:25no chance it's because it's taken
36:27decades ago and from quite far away so
36:28the image is pretty grainy yep zooming
36:30in just makes it worse and the man is
36:32canoeing past at an angle so there's
36:34never a full face shot well until we get
36:36that csi zoom and enhance technology
36:39which i have to say there's some ai
36:41stuff being done these days whereas the
36:43ai enhance images and it's not oh my
36:44gosh it is kind of like zoom and enhance
36:46whichever one made fun of for years and
36:48now it's like wow the crew of the
36:49documentary apparently tried to get the
36:50image analyzed but i'm told by experts
36:52that there's not enough detail to work
36:54with as one of the producers of the
36:55documentary puts it when pretending to
36:57type into a computer it's not csi it's
37:00not something you can boop
37:03oh it's michael rockefeller i like that
37:04this is
37:08i feel suitably chastened my previous
37:10reference to csi
37:12so anyway could this be michael wreck of
37:13rockefeller and if not who is it how
37:16could it be him if everyone has agreed
37:17that he was killed and eaten or maybe
37:18the asshmat just flat out lied to
37:20protect him pure speculation here of
37:22course but michael did not want to work
37:23in the family business yeah but i'm also
37:24not sure he wants to live among the
37:26tribes of papua new guinea or wherever
37:28was it
37:29look whatever
37:30there were there were so many places i'm
37:32so confused wherever this tribe is from
37:34he wanted to see the world and was
37:36passionate about art maybe saw an
37:37opportunity to live a different life
37:38even just for a while and he took it the
37:40footage was taken about eight years
37:42after his disappearance and the man
37:43could possibly be a 30-something michael
37:45rockefeller maybe he lived with the
37:47asmat as some kind of totem a curiosity
37:50or maybe just a friend the dutch
37:52government shrugged off the priest's
37:53reports as unreliable wim van der waal
37:56was shown some bones that were buried in
37:58the ground they could have been there
37:59for ages i'm generally convinced by
38:01whatever argument i hear last so let's
38:03hope that michael swam away from the
38:04boat and into a different life nah he's
38:06dead he was dead they killed him that's
38:09it's not the last theory i think it's
38:10that he's dead his name lives on in
38:12today's new york metropolitan museum of
38:14art also known as the met following the
38:15closure of nelson rockefeller's museum
38:17of primitive art in 1976 the collection
38:19was moved to the much larger galleries
38:21in a in 1982 the michael c rockefeller
38:23wing was opened housing what are now
38:25referred to as arts of africa oceania
38:28and ancient americas currently
38:29undergoing renovations the michael
38:31rocker following is due to reopen in
38:322024 after what's been described on the
38:34mets website as a complete conceptual
38:37and physical overhaul today a quick look
38:39at met's website shows several towering
38:41bish poles in the rockefeller wing an
38:42impressive but stark reminder of the
38:45artwork and the people that may have
38:47cost michael his life so really hope you
38:49enjoyed this episode of decoding the
38:51unknown thank you katie for writing it
38:52brilliant i'm sure even though obviously
38:54i haven't seen it yet but i'm sure it's
38:55always excellent and thank you dear
38:57listener for listening or watching if
38:59you're on youtube hello please leave a
39:01review of this podcast wherever you get
39:03your podcast that would be grand if
39:04you're watching on youtube leave a
39:05comment let me know what's your theory
39:06what do you think and i'll see you next
39:08time
39:12[Music]
39:17you
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FAQs about This YouTube Video

1. What happened to Michael Rockefeller in 1961?

In 1961, Michael Rockefeller, a member of the Rockefeller family, mysteriously disappeared while on a trip to New Guinea.

2. What is the belief about Michael Rockefeller's disappearance?

It is believed that Michael Rockefeller was killed and eaten by cannibals after he vanished in 1961 during his trip to New Guinea.

3. What are some of the theories surrounding Michael Rockefeller's disappearance?

Various theories and investigations have explored the circumstances surrounding Michael Rockefeller's disappearance in 1961, including the possibility of him being killed and eaten by cannibals.

4. How did Michael Rockefeller vanish during his trip to New Guinea?

Michael Rockefeller vanished in 1961 while on a trip to New Guinea, leading to a mystery surrounding his disappearance, with theories suggesting that he was killed and eaten by cannibals.

5. What are some of the investigations into Michael Rockefeller's disappearance?

Several investigations and explorations have been conducted to unravel the mystery of Michael Rockefeller's disappearance in 1961, delving into the possibility of him being killed and eaten by cannibals.

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