The Swedish founder of the Ikea furniture chain, Ingvar Kamprad, has died at his home in Småland, Ikea confirmed in a statement.
Forbes Magazine estimated his fortune at $23 billion in 2010, the eleventh richest person in the world. In 2016, his net worth was said to be $3.4 billion. He founded Ikea at the age of 17 using some money his father had given him as a gift for performing well at school, despite being dyslexic.
The Ikea statement said,
“He worked until the very end of his life, staying true to his own motto that most things remain to be done. Ingvar Kamprad was a great entrepreneur of the typical southern Swedish kind – hardworking and stubborn, with a lot of warmth and a playful twinkle in his eye.”
Kamprad eventually stepped down from the company’s board in 2013, at the age of 87. Despite his enormous wealth, he was know for his devotion to frugality, reportedly driving an old Volvo and travelling by economy class.
In a 2016 interview with Swedish television channel TV4, Kamprad said that it was “in the nature of Småland to be thrifty”.
“If you look at me now, I don’t think I’m wearing anything that wasn’t bought at a flea market. We have Småland in the blood, and we know what a krona is – even though it is not as much as it was when we bought candy and went to elementary school.”
The name comes from Kamprad’s initials (IK), together with the name of the farm he grew up on – Elmtaryd (E)- and the nearby village Agunnaryd (A)
In the later years of his life, Kamprad had faced questions over his past links to Nazis revealing some elements of his past in a ’88 book saying he was a close friend of the Swedish fascist activist Per Engdahl, and a member of his New Swedish Movement between 1942 and 1945.
He said that his involvement was youthful “stupidity” and the “greatest mistake” of his life but a 2011 book by Elisabeth Asbrink alleged details beyond what Kamprad had previously admitted writing that he was an active recruiter for a Swedish Nazi group staying close to Nazi sympathisers well after WWII.
At the time a spokesman for Mr Kamprad said he had long admitted flirting with fascism, but that there were now
“no Nazi-sympathising thoughts in Ingvar’s head whatsoever”.
Ingvar Kamprad was 91.
(Photo, Ikea; via BBC)