The museum’s founder, Christian Ludvig David, was born on July 30, 1878. His parents – Magdalene Juliane née Hagen (1840-1901) and Johannes Hage Christian David, a railroad engineer (1837-1890) – died relatively early, but did not leave young Christian and his two little sisters penniless. The three inherited a considerable fortune from their father’s family that had been made by their great-grandfather Joseph Nathan David (1758-1830), a wholesaler, and their grandfather Christian Georg Nathan David (1793-1874), an economist. The latter had broken with the family’s Jewish traditions and had converted to Christianity. He had been a member of the constitutional assembly and had held high posts in the state administration, serving as minister of finance in 1864 and 1865.
C. L. David completed his law studies at the University of Copenhagen in 1903. He chose a career as a practicing attorney and at the early age of 33 was granted the right to plead cases before the Supreme Court. As a litigation attorney, David made a name for himself especially with his defense of Emil Glückstadt (1875-1923), the bank director who was accused of bearing the main responsibility for the period’s biggest Danish financial scandal, the Landmandsbanken bankruptcy in 1922.
David’s business interests, however, were a far more profitable aspect of his professional life. He was active on the boards of several of the day’s leading Danish companies and also served as their legal advisor. In addition to the income that this work brought him, the stocks that David held in these successful enterprises also helped add to his fortune. His holdings in De Forenede Vagtselskaber were particularly important. By buying up security companies in Norway and Sweden during the inter-war period and adding cleaning companies, the enterprise grew under David’s chairmanship into a large multinational group that was later consolidated under the name ISS.
David never married, and when he died without an heir in 1960, he left a large fortune and an art collection in the townhouse at Kronprinsessegade no. 30. David willed his country estate, Marienborg on Lake Bagsværd, which he had bought in 1934, to the Danish state to be used as the summer residence of the country’s prime or foreign minister.