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For a multi-billionaire, Ingvar Kamprad appeared to live an ostentatiously frugal life.

According to the paper, his name had popped up in the archives of Per Engdahl, a Swedish fascist leader who’d recently died.

In neutral Sweden, Kamprad helped out at party meetings, stayed involved after World War II and, in 1950, even wrote to Engdahl, saying how proud he was of his participation.

Those letters showed that Mr Kamprad gave money and recruited members, and that Mr Engdahl had been one of a select few invited to Mr Kamprad's wedding.

Ms Åsbrink said Mr Kamprad's feelings about Mr Engdahl remained mixed even today.

"He came from a background where it was normal to speak badly about Jews, but when he met Otto, they became the closest friends," she said.

A spokesman for Mr Kamprad downplayed the revelations as "old news".It was a template his executives felt obliged to follow. He was the self-made hero who created an empire and revolutionised the furniture industry.Yesterday, Torbjörn Lööf, chief executive and president of the parent company, Inter Ikea Group, said: ‘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.’Presumably, Loof had temporarily forgotten about Kamprad’s alcoholism — which he claimed to control by abstaining three times a year, on doctor’s orders — and drinking heavily for the rest.And, of course, that unpleasant episode back in 1994 when the Stockholm newspaper Expressen revealed that Kamprad had joined a Swedish fascist party in 1943 and become an enthusiastic Nazi sympathiser, at about the same time he founded the company.Kamprad refused to take taxis in London, once catching the bus to pick up an industry award, and haggled constantly in markets.And, when a top-level Ikea meeting in Copenhagen ended early, he refused to leave because he had paid for a day’s parking. They were encouraged to write on both sides of a piece of paper and recycle cups. In Sweden, he was considered an entrepreneurial genius, a demi-God, almost."Per Engdahl was a great man, this I will maintain for as long as I live," he told her last year in a two-hour interview recorded for her book.In 1998, Mr Kamprad said he could not remember whether he had been a member of Nordic Youth, Sweden's equivalent of the Hitler Youth, when faced by further revelations.And, if he was feeling devilish, a nice new shirt and cravat.It seems a strange life for a chap who, in 2004, overtook Microsoft founder Bill Gates to become the world’s richest man, but his domestic austerity chimed beautifully with his business ethos.


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