Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Ingvar Kamprad, founder of Ikea dies aged 91

The founder of Sweden’s Ikea furniture chain, Ingvar Kamprad, has died at the age of 91.

The company said Kamprad, whom it described as “one of the greatest entrepreneurs of the 20th century”, had “peacefully passed away at his home” on Saturday.
Kamprad founded Ikea in the 1940s at the age of 17, and built it into one of the world’s best-known retailers. The name was composed from his own initials and those of the places in the Swedish countryside where he grew up.
Known for its functional, flatpack furniture – such as Billy shelves and Malm chests of drawers – that has to be assembled by customers, Ikea became the world’s largest furniture chain, with 412 stores across 49 countries.
In the later years of his life, Mr Kamprad faced questions over his past links to fascist groups - something he admitted, but said was a "mistake".
“Ingvar Kamprad gave a detailed account back in 1994 about what he describes as his ‘youthful sins’ and the ‘biggest mistake of his life,’ apologizing and asking for forgiveness from all parties involved,” the spokesman told the Telegraph in 2011. “The Ikea he created is based on democratic principles and embraces a multicultural society.”
Speaking to the BBC, a spokesman added: “There are no Nazi-sympathizing thoughts in Ingvar’s head whatsoever.”
Though he spent the last two decades of his life denouncing fascism and trying to distance himself from his Nazi links, Kamprad appears to have stood by his relationship with Engdahl, the Swedish fascist leader.
“Per Engdahl was a great man, this I will maintain for as long as I live,” he told Asbrink in an interview for her book, according to the Guardian.

In a statement on Sunday, Ikea said that Mr Kamprad had "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," it added. Mr Kamprad eventually stepped down from the company's board in 2013, at the age of 87.
"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," the company said.
His company's designs became popular in part because of their simplicity and value.
Mr Kamprad is reported to have come up with the idea of flat-pack furniture after watching an employee remove the legs from a table in order to fit it into a customer's car.
Torbjörn Lööf, chief executive and president of Inter Ikea Group, the furniture giant’s parent company, said: “We are deeply saddened by Ingvar’s passing. We will remember his dedication and commitment to always side with the many people. To never give up, always try to become better and lead by example.”
The Swedish prime minister, Stefan Löfven, said Kamprad was “a unique entrepreneur … who made interior decorating accessible for the many, not just a few”. 
Kamprad had not been involved in running Ikea since 1988, but had been acting as an adviser. In 2013 he stepped down from the board of Inter Ikea, and his youngest son became chairman.
Neil Saunders, managing director of retail at the analysis firm GlobalData, said: “Few people can claim to have genuinely revolutionised retail. Ingvar Kamprad did. When he founded it, Ikea was markedly different to anything that had existed in retail. Much of this difference was down to Ingvar’s Swedish heritage and instincts. 
“It is no exaggeration to say that his innovative approach changed not just the furniture sector, but the way people decorated and led their lives at home.”
Kamprad was estimated to have accumulated a fortune of 610bn Swedish kronor (£54bn) by 2016, according to Swedish media reports, which would make him one of the world’s richest people.
But Per Heggenes, chief executive of the Ikea Foundation, said Kamprad had long ago passed on his stake in Ikea’s stores and franchise to the INGKA Foundation and Inter Ikea Group.
“His death has no impact on the foundation or the companies at all,” he said. “It has no impact beyond the loss of him as a founder and an icon. It’s a huge loss but if you look at the company structure, nothing will change. His personal wealth is very limited.”
Kamprad was married twice. In 1973 he moved to Denmark, before seeking to lower his tax bill by moving to Switzerland. He returned to live in Sweden in 2014.
The billionaire had a reputation for penny pinching, which he claimed helped Ikea become one of the world’s top brand names, and wore secondhand clothes bought at flea markets.
“It’s in the nature of Småland to be thrifty,” he said in a documentary released in 2016, referring to Sweden’s southern agricultural region where he was born. “If we want to be cost-conscious, we should do it, not just talk about how cost-conscious we are.”
Kamprad grew up on a farm in southern Sweden. He turned into a budding entrepreneur aged five selling matches to his neighbours. As a teenager he graduated to selling seeds, pens and nylon stockings from his bicycle.
He founded Ikea in 1943 and began selling affordable furniture five years later; the first mail-order catalogue came out in 1951. In 1955, the Ikea employee Gillis Lundgren had the idea of removing the legs from a table and tucking them under its top to create the firm’s trademark flat-pack furniture, which was easier and cheaper to transport. Ikea’s first store outside Sweden opened in Norway in 1963 and it began colonising Europe; the first US store opened in 1985.
The initial success of Ikea’s no-nonsense furniture was ascribed to the Swedes’ obsession with functionalism. Lars Engman, Ikea’s then design manager, said in 2003: “Sweden created the Volvo, Italy the Ferrari.” The bright colours of the products were designed as an antidote to Sweden’s long, dark winters.
Jesper Börjesson, a TV reporter who, like Kamprad, was born in Älmhult municipality and was the last to interview him, said Kamprad had continued to play a role in the company until last year, with executive training taking place at his house.
“He lived upstairs and that was his flat, and then downstairs was where he took some of the meetings, and I think it was where he grew up, so it was very symbolic.”
Börjesson said Kamprad had been pleased to return to Älmhult, where the first Ikea store was opened and where the firm’s head offices are still based. “He was so happy to have moved home again, and he got to meet his old friends, and he could sit there in the countryside at his home and contemplate.
“I think everybody is sad today, but he’s talked about his death for a long time. He’s prepared himself and the company for this day.”

Monday, 26 December 2016

George Michael: Pop superstar dies at 53

Singer George Michael has died at his home at the age of 53.
The star, who launched his career with Wham! in the 1980s and had huge success as a solo performer, "passed away peacefully" on Christmas Day in Goring, Oxfordshire, his publicist said.
His manager, Michael Lippman, said he had died of heart failure.
Former Wham! bandmate Andrew Ridgeley said he was "heartbroken at the loss of my beloved friend".
Writing on Twitter and referring to Michael by his family nickname of "Yog", he added: "Me, his loved ones, his friends, the world of music, the world at large. 4ever loved. A xx"
On Instagram, Sir Elton John posted a photograph of himself with Michael, writing: "I am in deep shock. I have lost a beloved friend - the kindest, most generous soul and a brilliant artist. My heart goes out to his family and all of his fans."
Michael's family announced news of his death in a statement issued through the singer's publicist.
"It is with great sadness that we can confirm our beloved son, brother and friend George passed away peacefully at home over the Christmas period," it said.
"The family would ask that their privacy be respected at this difficult and emotional time. There will be no further comment at this stage."

floral tribute at George Michael's house
Image captionTributes have been left outside the star's home in Goring

South Central Ambulance Service were called to Michael's property at 13:42 GMT. Thames Valley Police also attended and Michael was confirmed dead at the scene.
They added: "At this stage the death is being treated as unexplained but not suspicious. A post-mortem will be undertaken in due course. "
A small heart wreath and a rose are among the tributes left outside the front door of Michael's home, a detached property by the River Thames.

Court battle

Michael, who was born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou in north London, sold more than 100 million albums throughout a career spanning almost four decades.
He first found fame with schoolfriend Ridgeley in duo Wham! - reaching number one in the UK singles charts on four occasions. One of the band's most enduring songs Last Christmas, is currently number 16 in the UK singles chart.
The song was originally released in 1984 and is the biggest selling single not to reach number one.
It was kept off the chart's top spot by Band Aid's Do They Know It's Christmas, which actually featured Michael.
Solo albums followed, including the multi-million selling Faith in 1987.
The follow-up Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 outsold Faith in the UK but led to Michael losing a court case with record label Sony over his frustration at how the album has been marketed.

From teen idol to long-term stardom

His talents as a singer, songwriter and music producer made George Michael one of the world's biggest-selling artists.
Blessed with good looks and a fine singing voice, his stage presence made him a favourite on the live concert circuit as he matured from teen idol to long term stardom.
But there were times when his battle with drugs and encounters with the police made lurid headlines that threatened to eclipse his musical talents.
As a solo artist, Michael scored a further seven number one singles in the UK with songs including Careless Whisper and Fastlove, collaborated with the likes of Aretha Franklin and Elton John, and won three Brit Awards and two Grammys.
The Grammy organisers said Michael's "extraordinary talent had a profound impact on countless entertainers worldwide, and his creative contributions will live on forever".

Troubled artist

Michael later began facing headlines for reasons other than his music.
After years of refusing to be drawn on speculation about his sexuality, Michael disclosed he was gay in 1998 after being arrested in a public toilet in Beverly Hills, California, for engaging in a lewd act.
The music video for the single that followed, Outside, featured a men's bathroom transformed into a disco and policemen kissing.
In October 2006 he pleaded guilty to driving while unfit through drugs, and in 2008 was cautioned for possession of class A drugs, including crack cocaine.
In September 2010, Michael received an eight-week prison sentence following an incident in which he crashed his Range Rover into a shop in north London. He admitted driving under the influence of drugs and possessing cannabis.
Pop stars from Michael's heyday were joined by contemporary names in paying tribute on Twitter.

ABC's Martin Fry said: "Absolutely devastated to hear of the loss of @GeorgeMichael Truly brilliant talent #sad #sad #sad."

Martin Fry tweetImage copyrightTWITTER

Duran Duran referred to the the so-called curse of 2016 - following the deaths of David Bowie, Prince and Rick Parfitt - posting on their official Twitter account: "2016 - loss of another talented soul. All our love and sympathy to @GeorgeMichael's family."
The band included a picture of Michael with its frontman Simon Le Bon, Sting and Bob Geldof.

Duran Duran tweetImage copyrightTWITTER

Madonna posted a video from 1989 on Twitter and Instagram of herself presenting Michael with an award, and wrote: "Another Great Artist leaves us".
Robbie Williams, whose first solo single was a cover of Michael's song Freedom, wrote: "Oh God no …I love you George …Rest In Peace x".
DJ Tony Blackburn said: "Unbelievable, George Michael has died at the age of 53. RIP.This dreadful year goes on and on. So sad, a real talent."
Boy George wrote: "He was so loved and I hope he knew it because the sadness today is beyond words. Devastating.
"What a beautiful voice he had and his music will live on as a testament to his talent. I can't believe he is gone. I hope the Buddha will hold him in his arms."

George Michael's UK number one singles

George Michael, Andrew Ridgeley
Image captionGeorge Michael and Andrew Ridgeley found fame with Wham! in the 1980s

  • Wake Me Up Before You Go Go (with Wham!) - 1984
  • Freedom (with Wham!) - 1984
  • Careless Whisper - 1984
  • I'm Your Man (with Wham!) - 1985
  • The Edge of Heaven (with Wham!) - 1986
  • A Different Corner - 1986
  • I Knew You Were Waiting For Me (with Aretha Franklin) - 1987
  • Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me (with Elton John) - 1991
  • Five Live EP (with Queen and Lisa Stansfield) - 1993
  • Jesus To A Child - 1996
  • Fastlove - 1996

In 2011, Michael postponed a series of concerts after being taken to hospital for treatment for pneumonia.
After treatment in a Vienna hospital, he made a tearful appearance outside his London home and said it had been "touch and go" whether he lived.
The experience inspired the single White Light which was his last Top 40 hit in 2012 and which he performed at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in London.
Michael had also recently been working on a documentary chronicling his rise to fame with Wham! and made a direct appeal on Twitter to his fans, asking them to send in their own videos and photographs dating from 1988 to 1996.
The documentary film entitled Freedom was originally expected to be released this year but was recently delayed until next March.
Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Muhammad Ali Has Died at 74

Muhammad Ali has died at the age of 74, The New York Times reports. The news was confirmed by Bob Gunnell, a spokesman for the Ali family.

Muhammad Ali has been hospitalized with a respiratory issue, CNN reports. The boxing legend and social activist "is being treated by his team of doctors and is in fair condition," Ali family spokesman Bob Gunnell said in a statement. "A brief hospital stay is expected. At this time, the Muhammad Ali family respectfully requests privacy."

That statement—datelined from Phoenix, Arizona—did not offer much further information on Ali's condition, but ESPN cites AP sources who claim it is more serious than during previous hospital stays in recent years. Ali suffers from Parkinson's disease, and has checked into hospitals for a severe urinary tract infection and pneumonia since 2014.

Ali is a three-time heavyweight champion, an Olympic Gold Medalist, and a lifetime activist for religious freedom and social justice.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Prince, singer and superstar, dies aged 57

The hugely popular, acclaimed and influential musician Prince has died at his home in Minnesota at the age of 57.
Police were summoned to his Paisley Park estate early on Thursday and found his body in a lift. An investigation has been opened.
Prince became a global superstar in the 1980s, with albums such as 1999, Purple Rain and Sign O' the Times.
No cause of death has been stated. A post-mortem investigation will take place on Friday.
His innovative music spanned rock, funk and jazz. He sold more than 100 million records during his career.
"It is with profound sadness that I am confirming that the legendary, iconic performer, Prince Rogers Nelson, has died," his spokeswoman said.
In a statement, Carver County Sheriff Jim Olson said his deputies responded to a medical call at about 09:43 local time (14:43 GMT) and later found an unresponsive adult male in an elevator at Paisley Park Studios.
First responders tried to revive him with CPR but he was pronounced dead at 10:07.
Hundreds of fans gathered outside Paisley Park. US President Barack Obama said the world had lost a "creative icon".

'A visionary' - Madonna

Born in 1958, Prince was a prolific writer and performer from a young age - reportedly writing his first song when he was seven.
A singer, songwriter, arranger and multi-instrumentalist, Prince recorded more than 30 albums. His best known hits include Let's Go Crazy and When Doves Cry.

'A joy to watch': By Mark Savage, BBC entertainment reporter

Musician Prince performing at the 2007 Super BowlImage copyrightAFP
Image captionPrince was in his element as a live performer, like here at the 2007 Super Bowl

A musical prodigy from a broken home, Prince famously wrote, arranged, produced and played almost all of his hit records.
But the Purple man's purple patch really came with his first band The Revolution.
With them by his side, he wrote more than two dozen rock classics in a five-year flurry.
Purple Rain, Little Red Corvette, 1999, Raspberry Beret, When Doves Cry, Kiss... At the same time, he dashed off Manic Monday for The Bangles and Nothing Compares 2U, made famous by Sinead O'Connor.
In the studio, he was unstoppable. But the magic really happened on stage. He would vamp, preen and tease an audience into a frenzy, then slay them with a quiet moment of crystalline beauty. He was a joy to watch.

He also wrote music for several artists - Sinead O'Connor's version of Nothing Compares 2U became a worldwide smash in 1990.
In 1984, he won an Oscar for the score to Purple Rain, a film in which he also starred.
Throughout his career he had a reputation for secrecy and eccentricity, once changing his name to an unpronounceable symbol.
In 2004, Prince was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which said he "rewrote the rulebook".
He had a mercurial relationship with technology. In 2000, he released singles via the pioneering music-sharing service Napster, but he later declared the internet "completely over" and refused to allow his music on major streaming platforms.
Prince's latest album, HITnRUN Phase Two, was released last year and he had been touring as recently as last week.
On 15 April he was taken to hospital after his private plane made an emergency landing in Illinois. It happened just hours after he had performed on stage in Georgia. He was treated and released after a few hours.
Tributes have been pouring in from artists young and old, across the musical spectrum.
  • Madonna, who dated Prince briefly, described him as a "visionary who changed the world"
  • Chic guitarist Nile Rogers said there were "tears and love on our tour bus"
  • Singer Justin Timberlake: "Numb. Stunned. This can't be real"
  • Guitarist Slash said Prince was "one of the greatest musical talents of my lifetime. Maybe of the 20th century"
  • Boy George: "Today is the worst day ever. Prince RIP I am crying!"
  • "I can't believe it, I'm in total shock. So many wonderful memories," wroteLionel Richie
  • Musician and actor Wyclef Jean: "RIP to the King Prince thank u for inspiring me to be a Musician First and using this tool to heal people"
  • Mick Jagger said Prince's talent was "limitless", calling him a "revolutionary artist, a great musician, a wonderful lyricist"
"It's such a blow. It's really surreal. It's just kind of unbelievable," Aretha Franklin told MSNBC. "He was definitely an original and a one of a kind. Truly there was only one Prince."

A tweet from Nasa reads: Image copyright@NASA
Image copyrightReuters
Image captionThis theatre in New York carried a commemorative message