I’m sure this warning is no great surprise to anyone, but I bet you think it’s because IKEA makes junk that goes into the garbage pretty quickly.
Well, partly that. But mostly because of what I learned about IKEA’s tyrant-founder, Ingvar Kamprad, in Lauren Collins’s October 3 article, “House Perfect,” in The New Yorker:
IKEA constitutes a sort of borderless nation-state, with seats of power, redoubts of conservatism, second cities, imperial outposts, creative hubs, and administrative backwaters …
“IKEA at its worst is like a sect,” Goran Carstedt, a former head of IKEA North America, once said … [E]mployees parse Kamprad’s frequent handwritten faxes as if they were pages from the Talmud … The atmosphere at IKEA reminded me of that of a political campaign, with true believers, whispering skeptics, inside jokes, and deflection of even the most innocuous questions. A former senior executive told me that, although he still admired the company, he had found it suffocating. He said, “For me, it was like North Korea.”
Sounds like Scientology, huh? That reference to the Talmud is most unfortunate because the IKEA story gets worse:
IKEA is not really a Swedish company. It is controlled by a company called INGKA Holding, which, in turn, is controlled by [a Dutch] tax-exempt, nonprofit foundation—to which Ingvar Kamprad transferred his ownership shares in 1982 … “Few tasks are more exasperating than trying to assemble flat-pack furniture from IKEA,” The Economist wrote in 2006. “But even that is simple compared with piecing together the accounts of the world’s largest home-furnishing retailer …”
Kamprad has been a tax exile since the nineteen-seventies … A bigger blow to Kamprad’s reputation came in 1994, when the Swedish newspaper Expressen published evidence revealing that Kamprad had once been active in the Swedish Nazi movement … In 1948, Kamprad paid to publish a book of [the leader of the Neo-Swedish (Nazi) movement]’s political writings. In 1950, he invited [this Neo-Nazi] to his wedding, writing that he was proud to be a part of the Neo-Swedish circle …
In 2009, Sweden’s largest television station, SVT, revealed that IKEA’s money … does not actually go to a charitable foundation in Holland, as IKEA had led people to believe. Rather… Inter IKEA is owned by a foundation in Liechtenstein, called Interogo, a corporate rainy-day fund. Interogo, which has amassed twelve billion dollars, is controlled by the Kamprad family.
To summarize: The founder and owner of IKEA is a monstrously wealthy neo-Nazi and a massive tax cheat.
Let’s keep our money out of IKEA, even as we join the Occupy Wall Street protesters.