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|Born||H. Ty Warner
September 3, 1944
Westmont, Illinois, U.S.
|Residence||Los Angeles, California|
|Alma mater||Kalamazoo College|
|Occupation||Entrepreneur and hotelier|
|Known for||Sole owner of Ty Inc.
|Net worth||US$2.5 billion (June 2015)|
H. Ty Warner (born September 3, 1944) is an American toy manufacturer, businessman, and former actor. He is the CEO, sole owner and founder of Ty Inc., which manufactures and distributes Beanie Babies, Beanie Baby 2.0s, Ty Girlz, Beanie Boos, Beanie Ballz, Monstaz, Pluffies, LI'L Ones and other plush items.
At the age of 14, Warner went to Lyons Township High School (south campus) in Western Springs, IL. He then went to St. John's Military Academy in Delafield, Wisconsin. Warner attended Kalamazoo College in Michigan but dropped out after a year.
Warner moved to Los Angeles, California to start a career in acting. He had little success as an actor and returned to Chicago after five years. There he began working for plush toy maker Dakin as a salesman, the same company where his father worked. In 1980 he was fired by Dakin, reportedly for selling his own products in competition with the company's line. After spending a three-year sabbatical in Italy, Warner returned to Chicago.
In 1986, he mortgaged his home and invested his life savings and a bequest from his father into founding Ty Inc. After starting out selling stuffed toy cats (inspired by some Warner had seen in Italy), in 1993 Ty Inc. launched Beanie Babies. At the peak of the Beanie craze, the privately owned Ty Inc. is believed to have earned over $700 million in profits in a year. On December 31, 1999, Ty Inc. announced that it would stop making Beanie Babies.
He also has significant investments in hotels, property and golf courses. Ty Warner Hotels and Resorts include the Four Seasons Hotel in New York City, the Sandpiper golf course, the Four Seasons Resort and San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito, California, the Kona Village resort in Hawaii (purchased in July 2004), the Montecito Country Club and the Las Ventanas al Paraiso Resort in Los Cabos, Mexico (acquired in September 2004). In 2005, Warner also bought the beachfront Miramar resort and Rancho San Marcos golf course.
A philanthropist, he has donated in excess of $6 million to the Andre Agassi Foundation for underprivileged children in Las Vegas and $3 million for the creation of Ty Warner Park in Westmont, Illinois. He also donated $1.5 million for the creation of the Ty Warner Sea Center in Santa Barbara, California and donated one million Beanie Babies for children in Iraq. Warner also donated more than $300 million worth of soft toys for a Red Cross blood drive. Additionally, Warner has designed a number of Beanie Babies with the intention of donating all of the profits to charity. Ty Inc.'s charity releases have raised millions for a variety of charities, including the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, the American Red Cross, and the Princess Diana Memorial Fund.
In 2006, he received the Children's Champion Award from Children's Hunger Fund for his philanthropic efforts—Ty Inc. donated 1 million Beanie Babies to Children’s Hunger Fund relief efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In 2012, Warner stopped a woman and asked for directions in Santa Barbara, Calif. The woman was trying to raise money for a stem-cell procedure she needed to save her life. After learning of her condition, he gave her $20,000 for the procedure.
In 2014, Warner was sentenced to two years of probation plus community service for tax evasion. Since 1996 he had maintained a secret offshore account in Switzerland with UBS, which according to the prosecution concealed at one time $107 million. Later, Warner used Zurcher Kantonalbank to maintain his offshore account. His philanthropic activities were considered when giving him a relatively lenient sentence.
Warner had tried to take advantage of the IRS tax amnesty that was offered in the wake of the UBS 2008-10 tax scandal, but the government refused to accept him. His lawyers, including former IRS Deputy Commissioner Mark M. Matthews, successfully used the "Olenicoff Defense" to convince the judge that Warner did not deserve the year-and-one-day prison sentence recommended by prosecutors. The defense was based on the government's treatment of Igor Olenicoff, a California real estate tycoon. The lawyers cited Olenicoff for getting off without a jail sentence when he was sentenced for tax evasion via offshore accounts.
Warner's pre-sentencing report that called for a jail sentence said his offshore account was the biggest ever found. In fact, the lawyers pointed out, Olenicoff had $240 million stashed offshore. The Olenicoff defense worked. On January 14, 2014, District Court Judge Charles P. Kocoras sentenced Warner to two years probation and 500 hours of community service. The judge rejected the prosecution's recommendation for jail time of one year and one day, to serve as a deterrent to other tax cheats. Olenicoff, who also got two years probation and community service, pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return, a felony. Warner pleaded guilty to the more serious charge of tax evasion.
Warner was born on September 3, 1944 in Chicago, Illinois and grew up in suburban La Grange, in a Prairie-style house designed in the early 1890s by Frank Lloyd Wright, now known as the Peter Goan House. His father was Harold Warner, a jeweler and toy salesman. His mother was Georgia Warner, a pianist. He has a much-younger sister, Joyce. He was named after baseball player Ty Cobb. He never married and has no children. Warner maintains a low public profile, rarely granting media interviews or releasing personal or company information.
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- "Ty Warner" at the Wayback Machine (archived July 17, 2005), Sunday Telegraph, July 18, 1999