Ingvar Kamprad (1926–2018) was the billionaire-founder of the Swedish furniture retailer IKEA.
At age 17, Kamprad started selling stationery and stockings and called his business IKEA, an acronym combining his initials and those of his family’s farm and a nearby village. In 1956, he hit upon the store’s trademark flat-packing system to cut costs by reducing transit space.
Kamprad led IKEA for seven decades and built it into one of the world’s biggest furniture companies. When he died, IKEA had 412 stores in 49 countries and Kamprad’s fortune was an estimated $48 billion. He often laid claim to his thriftiness, saying he flew economy, drove an old Volvo, and purchased his clothes at flea markets.
In 1973 Kamprad moved to Denmark, and then to Switzerland to lower his tax bill. He returned to live in Sweden in 2014.
In the mid-1990s, Kamprad came under fire for youthful involvement in a notorious Swedish fascist group linked to the Nazis during the ’40s and ’50s. He expressed regret, calling his involvement “the greatest mistake of my life.”