• Weird History

The Surprisingly Depressing Life Of Ty Warner - The Man Who Invented Beanie Babies

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.

  • Photo: Yearbook Photo / Chicago Mag / Public Domain

    His Dad Sent Him To Military School For No Reason

    Despite all the craziness that surrounded his childhood, Warner never appeared to be much of a problem child himself. That didn't stop Warner's dad Harold from shipping him of to boarding school at St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy in Wisconsin.

    There doesn't appear to have been any logic or reasoning behind the choice other than maybe his parents just didn't want to have Warner around any more. The move may have been good for Warner, though, and he ended up playing baseball, football, and basketball. He even got into a school honor society. 

  • He Refused To Help His Sister Out Financially

    Warner's sister Joy Warner is likely his best friend, but you wouldn't know it by some of the ways he has treated her over the years. Warner is a literal billionaire, and although he's sometimes been extremely generous to strangers, he's also been quite withholding.

    In 1996, Warner decided he could no longer build his sister a $100,000 home, because he "couldn't afford it." That's the same year he moved $100 million overseas to try and hide it from the IRS. He also decided he didn't want to help her with surgery, and suggested she ask one of her seven kids - who Warner reportedly never met - for help. 

  • Photo: Chris Hondros / Getty / Getty

    He Decided To Not Pay Taxes Even Though There Was Almost No Point

    In 2013, it came out that Warner had committed tax fraud. He was accused of squirreling away up to $107 million overseas in a bid to avoid having to pay taxes to the government. What's crazy about the whole thing is that despite all of this highly coordinated criminal activity, Warner only saved about $5 million.

    Now, $5 million might sound like a lot for a normal person, but to a man worth billions, it's hardly anything at all. By contrast, Warner was forced to pay $53 million in penalties

  • He Broke Down And Cried During His Tax Evasion Trial

    During Warner's trial for tax evasion, he actually broke down crying in front of the judge. As he pleaded guilty to his crimes, Warner admitted he had no reason to do what he did. He told the judge, "I have so much to be thankful for. There is no excuse for my actions." Even if he'd gotten away with it, Warner benefited very little from his fraud in the long term. Although prosecutors argued that Warner's crimes were focused on greed rather than necessity, some believe it was pure naivete that led Warner to hide his money overseas.