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Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad dies at age 91

29 January 2018

The Swedish entrepreneur who founded Ikea as a teenager, turning the company into the biggest furniture retailer in the world, has died aged 91.

His empire has since grown to 412 stores, and he was a part of the company's operations until 1988. He died peacefully following a short illness, it said.

The IKEA Group's president, Jesper Brodin, said Kamprad's "legacy will be admired for many years to come and his vision - to create a better everyday life for many people - will continue to guide and inspire us".

IKEA now has around 400 stores, visited by almost 1 billion people in 2017.

"My theory was that good furniture could be priced so that the man with the flat wallet would be attracted to it, would make a place for it in his spending and could afford it", Kamprad told Forbes in a 2000 interview.

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His image was tainted in later life by revelations that, during the second World War, he had joined the successor organisation to the Swedish National Socialist Workers' Party in occupied Sweden. His activity in the group was extensive enough that, in the same year Kamprad formed Ikea, Sweden's state police began investigating him and speculated that he held a leadership position in the organization.

"He wanted to appear a man of the people, one of us", Stenebo wrote in a behind-the-scenes book, "The Truth About Ikea", released shortly after he left the company almost a decade ago.

Kamprad was born on March 30, 1926, in Pjatteryd, Sweden.

Kamprad got the name IKEA from his own initials, the first letters of his family farm and where the farm was located.

Kamprad stepped down as CEO in the late 1980s.

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Furniture designer Jeff Banks said that Mr Kamprad's creations radically changed how people made and designed products for the home.

Kamprad returned to Sweden in 2014 after a reorganization of IKEA's complex ownership slashed his tax bill and left him with little formal influence.

His sons - Peter, Jonas and Mathias - still sit on the boards of various Ikea entities, but the family is no longer at the helm.

Kamprad reportedly had an estimated net worth of $58.7 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, and was ranked as the world's eighth-richest person. Kamprad's character is crucified on a Maypole, according to the New Yorker, but much like his real-life counterpart he remained unfazed. But the heady valuations assumed his assets were Ikea's, and in the last several decades the company has restructured so that its assets are owned by a foundation created by Kamprad.

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Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad dies at age 91