From the obituary of Theo Albrecht in the Telegraph:
Built up by Theo and his older brother Karl from their mother’s corner shop in the bombed-out rubble of postwar Essen in Germany, the privately controlled Aldi empire now extends to more than 8,000 stores around the world, including 300 in Britain — where its no-frills low-price format rapidly gained popularity during the recession. Though challenged in recent times by rival “discounters” such as Lidl (also German-owned), Aldi achieved sales in 2009 of more than 50 billion euros worldwide.
Little is known of the private lives of the Albrecht family, but Theo’s wealth was estimated by Forbes last year at $16.7 billion, making him the 31st richest person in the world and Germany’s second richest behind Karl at $23.5 billion; the brothers fortunes combined were exceed only by those of Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and the Mexican Carlos Slim.
The Albrechts’ obsession with privacy — living behind fortress-like security on estates overlooking the Ruhr valley, rarely snapped by paparazzi, never making public statements — derived in part from Theo’s experience in December 1971, when he was kidnapped at gunpoint by Heinz-Joachim Ollenburg, a lawyer with gambling debts, and his accomplice Paul Kron. Theo was held for 17 days in Ollenburg’s Düsseldorf office, but so nondescript was his appearance — he favoured cheap, ill-fitting suits — that the kidnappers demanded to see his ID to make sure they had snatched the right man. He responded by haggling over the ransom sum, which was eventually fixed at seven million Deutschmarks, and was delivered to a highway rendezvous by the Bishop of Essen. Ollenburg and Kron were caught and jailed, but only half of the money was recovered. Albrecht went to court to claim it as a tax-deductible business expense.