Business, Economics and Jobs

'Beanie Babies' creator Ty Warner charged with tax evasion


Ty Warner, creator of Beanie Babies toys, signs autographs at the American International Toy Fair in New York, February 16, 2003. The billionaire has admitted to tax evasion after prosecutors accused him of hiding some of his fortune in an offshore Swiss bank account.


Chris Hondros

Beanie Babies creator Ty Warner is widely know for his cult line of cuddly toys — and now, he's been charged with felony tax evasion for maintaining offshore accounts. 

Warner was made extremely wealthy by the Beanie Baby craze of the 1990s, and currently ranks as 209th on the Forbes list of the richest Americans with an estimated fortune of $2.6 billion — some of which, it appears, he had illegally stashed overseas. 

Federal prosecutors said that Warner went to "great lengths" to hide over $3 million in income in an offshore Swiss bank account, reports the BBC. After being outed, Warner has agreed to pay a whopping $53 million fine for his transgression. 

"This is an unfortunate situation that Mr. Warner has been trying to resolve for several years now," said Warner lawyer George Scandaglia to USA Today. "Mr. Warner accepts full responsibility for his actions with this plea agreement."

The 69-year-old toy tycoon appears to have opened the secret UBS account in 1996 at the height of the Beanie Baby craze, reports Forbes, and then transferred $93 million to another Swiss firm, Zürcher Kantonalbank, in 2002.

The account produced $3 million in income in 2002, profits he failed to mention to the IRS on his tax returns, according to Forbes — meaning that he shorted the IRS by about $1.2 million despite paying taxes on his other income. 

In an added jolt of irony, many who invested in Beanie Babies during the 1990s feeding-frenzy have now found themselves saddled with a massive collection of essentially worthless (if adorable) toys, as reports.