Ingvar Kamprad, the Swedish entrepreneur who founded Ikea at just 17 years of age, has died, BBC reports. He was 91 years old.
Ikea confirmed the death in a statement praising his legacy, adding that Kamprad "peacefully passed away at his home."
"He worked until the very end of his life, staying true to his own motto that most things remain to be done," the company, famed for its flat-pack furniture, noted. "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 was 87 when he stepped down from Ikea's board in 2013, some 70 years after he used money from his father as a reward for good grades to register his mail-order business. The BBC reports that Ikea's now-legendary DIY, flat-pack designs were inspired by Kamprad's observation of someone struggling to fit a table into a car, ultimately taking off its legs to make room.
Ikea — as the New York Times notes, the first two letters are Lampard's initials, with the last two referring to the names of his farm and village in Sweden (Elmtaryd and Agunnaryd) — now has close to 400 stores worldwide and has been praised for its simplicity and affordability. Indeed, Kamprad's thriftiness laid the groundwork for the company's economical appeal.
But his reputation isn't entirely unblemished. As the Times reports, a 1994 newspaper investigation exposed him as an active member of Sweden's fascist movement during the 1940s; the revelation prompted calls for boycotts from Jewish groups before the controversy eventually died down. Kamprad called his fascist past "a part of my life which I bitterly regret” and “the most stupid mistake of my life."
The twice-married billionaire is survived by one daughter and three sons, the youngest of whom, Mathias, stepped down as Ikea chairman in 2016.