The founder of Ikea, Ingvar Kamprad, died on Saturday aged 91 at his home in Smaland, Sweden, the company has confirmed.
Mr. Kamprad, described as “one of the greatest entrepreneurs of the 20th century,” was 17 when he founded Ikea — a shop for furniture, lighting, home accessories and more — in 1943, but the notoriously frugal billionaire has made headlines over the years for his modest spending habits.
The man, who was once listed as the world’s fourth richest man, took easy Jet flights, drove himself around in a 15-year-old Volvo and furnished his modest house almost entirely with Ikea items — which he assembled himself.
And the Ikea magnate once took a bus to a gala evening to collect a businessman of the year award, prompting security to refuse to let him in.
Kamprad admitted buying all his clothes from flea (second hand) markets in the hope of setting a good example to others.
During visits to London, he shunned taxis and preferred to use the Tube or buses.
He and his wife, Margaretha, loved to dine out in cheap restaurants and they haggled over prices in their local market.
As for haircut, he usually waited till he was in a developed country where he could get it cheaply done. Said he, “’Normally, I try to get my haircut when I’m in a developing country. Last time it was in Vietnam.”
When a statue of him was erected in his Swedish home town, he was invited to cut the ribbon. He instead untied it, folded it, then gave it back to the mayor, telling him he could use it again.
Explaining his frugal nature, he said: ‘I am a bit tight with money, a sort of Swedish Scotsman. But so what?
“If I start to acquire luxurious things then this will only incite others to follow suit. It’s important that leaders set an example.
“I look at the money I’m about to spend on myself and ask if Ikea’s customers could afford it.”
Kamprad was a former Nazi sympathiser in the years immediately following the Second World War and faced questions about his past in 2011 after author Elisabeth Asbrink said he had been an active recruiter for a Swedish Nazi group.
The Swedish billionaire claimed his involvement was ‘stupidity’ and the ‘greatest mistake’ of his life.
A self-confessed alcoholic, the Ikea founder admitted he had an ongoing problem with drink. But he said he had it under control and that he ‘dries out’ three times a year.
Multinational Ikea, with hundreds of stores, has long been the world’s largest furniture retailer. The company is run jointly by Mr Kamprad’s three sons — Peter, 44, Jonas, 41, and Matthias, 39.