Michele Ferrero, Tycoon Who Gave the World Nutella, Dies at 89
Michele Ferrero, widely regarded as the richest man in Italy and — a distinction more notable to lovers of sweets everywhere — the creator of Nutella, died on Saturday at his home in Monte Carlo. He was 89.
Mr. Ferrero presided over a vast international confectionary empire; he was sometimes referred to as a real-life Willy Wonka. He ranked 22nd on the most recent Forbes list of billionaires, with an estimated net worth of $26.5 billion. The magazine stated the source of his wealth simply: “chocolates.”
Actually, it was more than chocolates; Ferrero products include fruity and minty Tic Tacs, as well as Ferrero-Rocher candies and Kinder snacks. The company, which Mr. Ferrero’s father, Pietro, started in a Piedmont pastry shop in the 1940s, grew under the younger Mr. Ferrero’s leadership into a worldwide powerhouse, rivaling Mars, Nestlé and Hershey. Its sales in 2014 totaled about $10 billion.
It was Nutella, a thick spread of chocolate and hazelnut, that truly captivated the world’s taste buds.
“World’s flags should be at half-mast: Nutella owner has died,” read one of the many posts on Twitter after Mr. Ferrero’s death — which poetically enough came on Valentine’s Day — was reported.