The name Ty Warner may not be immediately recognizable, but it's likely people have hundreds of his creations sitting in a closet somewhere. See, Ty Warner is the man who invented Beanie Babies; therefore, he also created the childhood of every kid growing up in the '90s. In some rare instances, Ty Warner's Beanie Babies made a few people rich back in the day. A few Beanie Babies still can.
Unlike the cheery Beanie Babies themselves, Ty Warner's life is surprisingly depressing. Although one might hope that a list of Ty Warner facts would primarily revolve around the happy inspirations for his cute stuffed animals, the reality is much more grim. Warner's childhood was highly abusive and very damaging to his personality. His mother was schizophrenic, and his father was sexually abusive toward his sister. A constant contradiction, he did many great things with his money, but he was also busted in 2013 for tax fraud.
Warner and his father Harold had a strained relationship. He chose to send his son to military school for no real reason, and molested Warner's sister Joy -- which she revealed in The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: Mass Delusion and the Dark Side of Cute by Zac Bissonnette. But that's not all.
He and his father repeatedly dated the exact same women at the exact same time, according to Bissonnette's book.
Warner and his sister Joy were close due to their shared traumatic childhood. Remembering her childhood, Joy once said she woke up to find her mother standing over her with a butcher's knife. Their mother was a paranoid schizophrenic who couldn't really control her emotions or her thoughts. Joy wasn't hurt in the incident.
Their mom didn't get better as the two got older either. Once, when Warner and his girlfriend were sewing Beanie Babies on the floor, his mother came in and started screaming horrible things to his girlfriend like, “You’re a whore! You’re so ugly, and that’s why my son will never marry you!” Warner ignored the whole thing and just kept sewing.
Though their childhood was difficult, Warner's best, and maybe only, friend appears to be his sister, Joy. In fact, she's basically the only person he seems to have kept in consistent contact with throughout the years. Joy was willing to speak at length with Zac Bissonnette, the author of The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: Mass Delusion and the Dark Side of Cute, about her brother's treatment of her over the years - including refusing to help her pay for surgery, and turning his back on helping her build a $100,000 home. She appears to genuinely care for her brother, despite their relationship experiencing a great deal of strain and difficulty throughout the years. Nowhere else in the book does any other person ever come across as anything approaching a true friend.
In the mid-2000s, Warner invited his sister, Joy, over to check out his new house. It wasn't finished yet, but the entire estate of his Montecito, CA, property was expected to end up somewhere in the $150 million range. Part of that cost was attributed to a massive, 40-person dining room Warner was building for the house. He told his sister "this is where we eat when we have company." Of course, this prompted his sister to immediately ask, "Who would you have over?" After a moment of awkward silence, Warner admitted, "Nobody."