IKEA Founder Dies at 91

Despite having created a global furniture empire, Ingvar Kamprad was notoriously frugal
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 28, 2018 5:41 AM CST
IKEA Founder Dies at 91
In this 2002 file photo, Ingvar Kamprad, founder of Swedish multinational furniture retailer IKEA, stands outside the company's head office in Almhult, Sweden.   (Claudio Bresciani/TT via AP)

Ingvar Kamprad, the IKEA founder who turned a small-scale mail order business into a global furniture empire, has died at 91, reports the AP. IKEA said that Kamprad died Saturday at his home in Smaland, Sweden. "He will be much missed and warmly remembered by his family and IKEA staff all around the world," the company said. Kamprad's life story is intimately linked to the company he founded at 17 on the family farm. His work ethic, frugality, and down-to-earth style remain at the core of its corporate identity. But his missteps in life, including early flirtations with Nazism that the BBC notes he referred to as the "greatest mistake" of his life, never rubbed off on IKEA. In a 1998 book, he gave more details about his youthful "delusions," saying he had been influenced by his German grandmother's strong support for Hitler. "Now I have told all I can," he said. "Can one ever get forgiveness for such stupidity?"

Kamprad formed the company's name from his own initials and the first letters of the family farm, Elmtaryd, and its parish of Agunnaryd. It's in the heart of Smaland, a forested province whose people are known for thrift and ingenuity. Kamprad possessed both. His name often appeared on lists of the world's richest men, but he drove a modest Volvo and dressed unassumingly, shopping for his clothes at flea markets. Kamprad's personal wealth was established at $113 million, a considerable amount, but IKEA officials have said that lists comparing his wealth to that of Warren Buffet or Bill Gates erroneously considered IKEA's assets as his own. IKEA is owned by foundation that Kamprad created, whose statutes require profits to be reinvested in the company or donated to charity. The estate inventory showed that Kamprad donated more than $20 million in 2012 alone. (Read more Ingvar Kamprad stories.)

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