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Dark side of Ty Warner, the billionaire behind Beanie Babies

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The secretive billionaire genius behind Beanie Babies has a business fame as anything but a teddy bear.

Individuals who know Ty Warner, the brand’s founder, said he’s a stubborn eccentric who wants things done his way — or else. Now, he toying along with his fame by putting two landmark hotels he owns on ice but not making it clear why.

Mystery surrounds the 78-year-old decision to shutter each the long-lasting 4 Seasons Hotel in Recent York in addition to the 4 Seasons Biltmore in Santa Barbara. He closed them firstly of the pandemic in 2020 and it was expected they’d re-open just a few months later when most hotels did. As an alternative, Warner is seemingly battling 4 Seasons management, which doesn’t own the hotels under its banner but operates them for the owners.

Besides those two hotels, Warner also owns the Kona Village Resort in Hawaii, Las Ventanas al Paraiso resort in Los Cabos, Mexico, and the famed San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito, Calif. — which has hosted the weddings of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin, Chris Pratt, and Katherine Schwarzenegger, and Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier. John F. Kennedy honeymooned there along with his wife Jackie.

Ty Warner is the person behind Beanie Babies — one in every of the largest phenomenons in American toy history.The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

A picture of Ty Warner.Warner is feuding with an ex-girlfriend, 85-year-old Kathryn Zimmie, who lived with him at his $400 million Montecito home for years, accusing him of abuse. Corbis via Getty Images

But, in sharp contrast to his success with stuffed animals, Warner has lost a lot money on his hotel and resort business that he went 12 years without paying a dollar in federal income taxes, ProPublica reported last 12 months.

He’s also feuding with an ex-girlfriend, 85-year-old Kathryn Zimmie, who lived with him at his $400 million Montecito home for years. Zimmie filed suit against Warner in 2021, accusing him of years of abuse.

Warner denied the claims through his lawyer. 

“He could be quite aggressive and set in his ways,” a source very acquainted with Warner told The Post. “You’re talking about someone who had a startup selling stuffed animals at a price point no one said would fly — and he became the richest man within the history of toys. When you’ve done that you simply’re not inclined to hearken to anyone else.”

Owner Warner has kept New York City's legendary Four Seasons hotel closed rather than pay brand management fees.
Warner has kept Recent York City’s legendary 4 Seasons hotel closed fairly than pay hefty upkeep fees.

A picture of a sign of the Four Seasons in New York.
In response, the hotel chain has rebuffed his request to regulate fees to be commensurate with the hotel’s profitability or lack thereof, based on sources.

A picture of a pool at the Four Seasons in Southern California.
The 4 Seasons battles are an odd third chapter for Warner, who is alleged to be something of a recluse.

Each hotels have gone dark, with no known date to re-open. Warner and the 4 Seasons have been sparring for the past 18 months or so over the Manhattan hotel per a contract clause covering dispute resolutions, The Post reported last week.

In Recent York, the fight reportedly involves Warner’s reluctance to pay the hefty upkeep fees demanded by 4 Seasons management. In response, the hotel chain has rebuffed his request to regulate fees to be commensurate with the hotel’s profitability or lack thereof, based on sources, who added that the feud could go on for years, leaving the legendary 57th Street space an eerie shell.

“There are 368 rooms in that luxury hotel sitting empty,” a source who worked with Warner within the hotel business told The Post. “I don’t know what the tip game is. I assume there are a handful of security and maintenance people available in case something goes incorrect with the pipes or to maintain people from breaking in. I ponder in the event that they have housekeeping going into those rooms to scrub the dust every now and then.”

He  also owns the Four Seasons Biltmore in Santa Barbara, Calif., which, like its NYC counterpart, is sitting stagnant.He also owns the 4 Seasons Biltmore in Santa Barbara, Calif., which, like its NYC counterpart, is sitting stagnant.

In Santa Barbara, meanwhile, locals are mystified why the 4 Seasons Biltmore — a five-star, celebrity favorite resort tucked between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez mountains — has not re-opened.

Warner is fighting Santa Barbara tax collectors saying they charge him an excessive amount of while facing lawsuits — adding as much as no less than $6 million — brought on behalf of 450 Biltmore employees who’ve been placed in unpaid limbo since March 2020.

Attorney Bruce Anticouni, who represents the plaintiffs, told The Post on Wednesday that when the 4 Seasons Biltmore shut down in March 2020, employers were told they were being placed on temporary furlough and can be reinstated. In June 2020, right when other hotels were re-opening, the staff’ medical health insurance was canceled.

One of many keys to the Beanie Babies' success was Warner's decision to deliberately under-stuff the toys to make them more huggable.Considered one of many keys to the Beanie Babies’ success was Warner’s decision to deliberately under-stuff the toys to make them more huggable.San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

“It’s terrible,” Anticouni told The Post. “There have been lots of sad stories. Numerous employees losing their houses, divorces, and no less than one suicide. The corporate takes the position that they’re still employed and can come back in some unspecified time in the future — but we’re not seeing evidence of that. It’s been near 1,000 days already.”

The 4 Seasons battles are an odd third chapter for Warner who is alleged to be something of a recluse. A school dropout from suburban Chicago, in 1985 he leveraged a Midas touch as a salesman when he began manufacturing low-cost stuffed animals in China for 30 cents — then selling them for $2.50 to independent gift stores who in turn marked the toys as much as $5.

Considered one of many keys to the Beanie Babies success was Warner’s decision to deliberately under-stuff the toys to make them more huggable.

A picture of a Beanie Baby bear.
Beanie Babies with names like Chops the lamb, Chocolate the moose, and Speedy the turtle flew off store shelves throughout America between 1996 and 2000.

A picture of Ty dolls.
By 1998, the corporate was bringing in $1.4 billion.

A picture of a Beanie Baby bear.
The Beanie Baby craze, which inspired a collecting frenzy, was powered partly by a 1999 People magazine article.

Warner also has a financial stake in the opulent Kona Village resort in Kailua-kona, Hawaii. Warner also owns within the opulent Kona Village resort in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Between 1996 and 2000, Beanie Babies with names like Chops the lamb, Chocolate the moose, and Speedy the turtle flew off store shelves throughout America. By 1998, the corporate was bringing in $1.4 billion.

The Beanie Baby craze, which inspired a collecting frenzy, was powered partly by a 1999 People magazine article written by Joni Hirsch Blackman, and a gaggle of Naperville, Ailing., soccer mothers who helped fuel a thriving black marketplace for the toys and drove prices even higher.

Hirsch Blackman stays the one person to have scored an interview with Warner. The Post was unable to achieve him, and his attorney didn’t reply to a request for comment.

Among Warner's resort properties is San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito, Calif., where celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow wed and John F. Kennedy Jr. and wife Jackie honeymooned.Amongst Warner’s resort properties in San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito, Calif., where celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow wed and John F. Kennedy Jr. and wife Jackie honeymooned.Corbis via Getty Images

“I knew I had a winner,” Warner told People in 1999 when he was attempting to sustain with a 1,000% increase in orders from the previous 12 months.

Warner was anything but a straightforward boss — as illustrated in Zach Bissonnette’s 2015 book, “The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: Mass Delusion and the Dark Side of Cute” and in last 12 months’s “Beanie Mania” documentary on HBO Max.

“He had his staff up until 4 a.m. debating what color of ribbon the rabbit would have,” said a source acquainted with Warner’s years with Beanie Babies. “They’d finally arrive at the colour and the staff would think they might finally go home. Then Ty would say, ‘Wait, what for those who modified the best way you tied the ribbon on the rabbit?’

Sources who know Warner say he's a stubborn eccentric who wants things done his way — or else.Sources who know Warner say he’s a stubborn eccentric who wants things done his way — or else.Getty Images

“He could also be bringing that form of insane deal with aesthetics to the 4 Seasons hotels,” the source added. “Wherein case, he may very well be making decisions that might go on for years.”

Bissonnette’s book detailed Warner’s tough childhood and strained relationship along with his parents, Harold, a toy salesman, and Georgia, who was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic within the Nineteen Seventies.

Warner’s lawyers cited those difficult early years when he was brought up on tax evasion charges in 2008. Federal prosecutors said Warner had been stashing as much as $107 million in an offshore account with UBS since 1996.

Patricia Roche dated Warner (right, next to former Harrods owner Mohamed Al-Fayed) and ran the UK arm of his company for a while.Patricia Roche dated Warner (right, next to former Harrods owner Mohamed Al-Fayed) and ran the UK arm of his company for some time.Sue Owne/ Chreish

In 2014, he ended up being sentenced to 2 years probation plus community service, and paid a $53 million high quality, but served no time. Warner’s philanthropy — he’s raised tens of millions of dollars for charity and donated tens of millions more — was a consideration when the court decided his punishment.

Nonetheless, Warner’s girlfriend of greater than 20 years didn’t describe him as charitable within the suit she filed against him last 12 months, as a substitute making it sound as if life with the billionaire was a horror show.

In a criticism filed in Santa Barbara Superior Court, Zimmie said she had “fled” the luxe Montecito estate she shared with Warner “out of fear for her well-being and safety,” forsaking all of her clothing and private possessions.

Warner — who reportedly named most if not all of the Beanie Babies, dubbed one Warner — who reportedly named most if not the entire Beanie Babies — dubbed one “Patti the Platypus” after his ex, Roche.

In keeping with the suit, Zimmie alleged that when she said she was leaving Warner, he placed his hands round her neck and told her, “I wouldn’t do this if I were you.”

“Warner squeezed Zimmie’s throat so hard that she realized that her life was at risk if she ever left him,” the lawsuit alleges.

When Zimmie began using a cane, it apparently annoyed Warner. He’d allegedly hide the device from his girlfriend after which scold her if she needed to regular herself with partitions and objects across the home.

Warner has been accused of abuse by his ex-girlfriend Kathryn Zimmie.Warner has been accused of abuse by his ex-girlfriend Kathryn Zimmie.ZUMAPRESS.com

Warner allegedly reprimanded Zimmie for not ending her meals and coughing excessively. If she went to a different a part of the estate, Warner would shout “Katie! Katie! Katie!” until she returned to his side, the criticism states.

Kathryn Zimmie’s daughter told The Post her mother didn’t want to comment.

Warner has had several relationships along with Zimmie — including with Patricia Roche and Faith McGowan, who were each involved within the operations of Ty, Inc., the corporate behind Beanie Babies — but never married nor does he have children.

He and his original right-hand woman, Lina Trivedi named most if not the entire stuffed animals, based on Bissonnette’s book. Warner dubbed one in every of the Beanie Babies “Patti the Platypus” after his ex Roche, who also ran the corporate’s UK business for some time.

Zimmie and Warner lived together at his Montecito, California, mansion.Zimmie and Warner lived together at his Montecito, California mansion.

Warner continues to be manufacturing Beanie Babies, and the most recent ones could be seen on his website, ty.com.

While he owns the luxurious home in Montecito, he is frequently based in Oak Brook, Ailing., insiders said.

“He shouldn’t be all bad,” said the source acquainted with Warner’s early years with Beanie Babies. “He was obsessive about making working conditions higher within the China factories that made the animals. He wanted them to be lit higher. At the tip of the day, he’s actually an artist. He has an actual eye — and the artist’s tendency to fixate.”

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