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New Documentary Said To Confirm That One Of The Rockefellers Was Eaten By Cannibals

Business Insider

A documentary that will debut on Netflix next year will reportedly provide new evidence that Michael Rockefeller, the son of former Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, was eaten by cannibals in New Guinea in 1961.

Details of the documentary and its release were reported by New York Post "Page Six" columnist Richard Johnson on Tuesday.

According to Johnson, the movie, "The Search For Michael Rockefeller," will be released on the streaming video service Feb. 1 and it "confirms" that "one of the most compelling unsolved mysteries of the 20th century" ended with the young heir being "devoured."

Rockefeller, whose great-grandfather was the cofounder of Standard Oil and one of America's wealthiest dynasties, traveled to New Guinea in 1961 to photograph the Asmat people and collect their art. At the time, he was 23-years-old and his father was the governor of New York. He disappeared after a boat he was riding in capsized.

In 2013, Carl Hoffman published a book about Rockefeller that also theorized he was eaten by cannibals. In an excerpt of that book, published by Smithsonian Magazine, Hoffman described the heir's disappearance:

"One moment his boat was being tossed by the waves, just as ours was, and the next he and his Dutch companion were clinging to an overturned hull," Hoffman wrote. "And then Rockefeller had swum for shore and vanished. No trace of him was ever found, despite a two-week search involving ships, airplanes, helicopters and thousands of locals prowling the coasts and jungle swamps."

Rockefeller's death was eventually ruled a drowning, but there have long been questions about this official version of events.

"The Search For Michael Rockefeller" hit the festival circuit in 2011, but it has yet to enjoy a wide release. According to its website, the movie is based on original footage and materials obtained when author and adventurer Milt Machlin mounted an expedition in search of Rockefeller.

The movie was directed and produced by Fraser Heston, the son of famed actor Charlton Heston. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.